We regret to inform you that_Kiyoshi Kuromiya, one of the world's leading AIDS activists, died on May_9th, 2000 due to complications from AIDS. To the last, Kiyoshi remained an activist, insisting on and receiving the most aggressive treatment for cancer and the HIV that complicated its treatment. He participated fully in every treatment decision, making sure that he, his friends and fellow activists were involved with his treatment every step of the way. He never gave up.
Kiyoshi devoted his life to the struggle for social justice. He was a committed civil rights and anti-war activist. He was also one of the founders of Gay Liberation Front-Philadelphia and served as an openly gay delegate to the Black Panther Convention that endorsed the gay liberation struggle.
As a pioneering AIDS activist, Kiyoshi was involved in all aspects of the moment, including radical direct action with ACT UP Philadelphia and the ACT UP network, PWA empowerment and coalition-building through We The People Living with HIV/AIDS, national and international research advocacy, and loving and compassionate mentorship and care for hundreds of people living with HIV. Kiyoshi was the editor of the ACT UP Standard of Care, the first standard of care for people living with HIV produced by PWAs.
Kiyoshi is perhaps best known as the founder of the Critical Path Project, which brought the strategies and theories of his associate/mentor Buckminster Fuller to the struggle against AIDS. The Critical Path newsletter, one of the earliest and most comprehensive sources of HIV treatment information, was routinely mailed to thousands of people living with HIV all over the world. He also sent newsletters to hundreds of incarcerated individuals to insure their access to up-to-date treatment information.
Critical Path provides free access to the Internet to thousands of people living with HIV in Philadelphia and this region, hosted over a hundred AIDS related web pages and discussion lists, and showed a whole generation of activists and people living with HIV that the Internet can be a tool for information, empowerment and organizing. He was a leader in the struggle to maintain freedom of speech on the Internet, participating in the successful lawsuit against the Internet Decency Act.
Kiyoshi understood science and was involved locally, nationally and internationally in AIDS research. As both a treatment activist and clinical trials participant, he fought for community based research, and for research that involves the community in its design. He fought for research that mattered to the diversity of groups affected by AIDS, including people of color, drug users, and women.
He fought for appropriate research on alternative and complementary therapies as well, and was the lead plaintiff in the Federal class action lawsuit on medicinal marijuana.
In the first issue of Critical Path, published in 1989, he wrote, "it is our conviction that . . . a heroic endeavor is now needed both to provide for the continuing health maintenance of Persons With AIDS the world over, and, by the year 2001 to find a cure for the ravages of AIDS for all time." That task he set us still remains unfinished.
We will miss Kiyoshi's intelligence and the clear and even analysis he brought to any meeting or political activity. We will miss his commitment and dedication to the idea that all people living with HIV should participate in the decisions that will affect their lives. And we will miss his wit, his smile, his sense of fun.
If you want to honor Kiyoshi, we urge you to make a donation to the activist organization of your choice. And sometime soon, today, or tomorrow, or next week, take the opportunity to speak truth to power, join a picket line you might have passed by, or help plan a demonstration against global injustice that you thought you were too busy to be involved with. He would have liked that.
Obituary in the News
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Kiyoshi Kuromiya, a social activist who helped to inform and empower AIDS patients, died from the disease Wednesday, one day after his 57th birthday.
Kuromiya was diagnosed with AIDS in 1989 and quickly wanted to know everything about his illness. He became a self-taught AIDS expert who believed that patients fared best when they understood the disease, explored treatment options and actively participated in medical decisions.
Kuromiya ran a community medicine chest to help patients get free drugs, published a newsletter, and ran a 24-hour hotline for patients needing information -- even prisoners calling collect.
He also provided free Internet access to AIDS patients in the region and ran an underground ``buyers club'' that supplied marijuana for free to patients who found it helped them alleviate nausea from their other treatments.
Kuromiya was a lifelong civil rights activist who fought causes to the U.S. Supreme Court. A longtime gay activist, he helped start ACT-UP, an AIDS activist group, in Philadelphia. He was also a nationally ranked Scrabble player and a master of Kundalini yoga.
Kuromiya was born May 9, 1943, at Heart Mountain, Wyo., a World War II internment camp for people of Japanese ancestry. As a student at the University of Pennsylvania, he became active in the civil rights movement.
In an early rally for gay rights, he marched on July 4, 1965, in front of Independence Hall. Then, to protest of the use of napalm in Vietnam in 1968, he announced that a dog would be burned alive in front of Penn's Van Pelt Library.
Thousands turned up to protest, only to find a message from Kuromiya: ``Congratulations on your anti-napalm protest. You saved the life of a dog. Now, how about saving the lives of tens of thousands of people in Vietnam.''
After college, he traveled with architect R. Buckminster Fuller, helping him complete his last books, including Critical Path, which argued that people can control their destiny through technology. He later called his AIDS newsletter, currently distributed to about 6,000 people, ``Critical Path.''
On his Web site, http://www.critpath.org, he posted graphic AIDS prevention and treatment news that he believed was necessary to patients' health. Seeking to protect the public's right to such information, he was a plaintiff in a suit claiming that the 1996 Communications Decency Act was unconstitutional. In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed and struck down key provisions of the act.
KIYOSHI KUROMIYA _Brief Action Highlights
|1962||CORE restaurant sit-ins, Route 40, Aberdeen, MD|
|1963||Martin Luther King speech, 8/28, Lincoln Memorial and later to meet King at Willard Hotel, Washington DC|
|1965||Injured at State Capital Building, Montgomery Alabama, leading black high school students in voter registration march, 3/13|
|1965||First homosexual rights demonstration, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 7/4|
|1967||"Armies of Night" march on Pentagon Building|
|1968||Lincoln Park and Conrad Hilton, Chicago, Democratic National convention riots at Grant Park|
|1968||Martin luther King funeral, Atlanta -- cared for Martin Jr. and Dexter week of funeral at King house in Vine City|
|1969||Spoke at Black Panter Party's Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention, Temple University, Philadelphia|
|1970||"Rebirth of Dionysian Spirit," National Gay Liberation conference, Austin, TX|
|1972||First Rainbow Family Gathering, Granby, CO|
|1974 - 77||Survived metastatic lung cancer|
|1978 - 83||Traveled worldwide with Buckminster Fuller, collaborated on his last 6 books, wrote last book posthumously in 1992 (Fuller died in 1983), Philadelphia and California|
|1988||First employee of We the People with AIDS and charter member of ACT UP, Philadelphia|
|1989||Founded Critical Path AIDS Project|
|1991||ACT UP members injured at demo at Bellevue Stratford Hotel, numerous ACT UP arrests around the country|
|1996||Sat on FDA panel that recommended approval of first potent protease inhibitors|
|1997||Critical Path AIDS Project -- lead litigant for Supreme Court challange to over-turn communications decency act on internet censorship|
|1999||Kuromiya vs. United States of America -- class action suit on medical use of marijuana|
HONOR HIS MEMORY
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