Scott Kurashige

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Scott Kurashige

Scott Kurashige is a professor of American and ethnic studies and senior advisor for Faculty Diversity and Initiatives at the University of Washington Bothell, and president-elect of the American Studies Association. Dr. Kurashige studies race in a comparative, intersectional, and transnational framework with a focus on urbanism and social movements. He is a member of the Diversity Scholars Network at the National Center for Institutional Diversity.[1]


  • PhD, History, UCLA
  • MA, Asian American Studies, UCLA
  • BA, History, University of Pennsylvania[2]


  • The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, Scott Kurashige co-authored with Grace Lee Boggs (University of California Press, 2011); updated and expanded paperback edition with new preface and afterword with Immanuel Wallerstein (University of California Press, 2012).
  • The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles (Princeton University Press, 2008) in the “Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America” series edited by William Chafe, Gary Gerstle, Linda Gordon, and Julian Zelizer

. Kurashige's articles have appeared in multiple anthologies and journals, including Afro-Hispanic Review, Amerasia Journal, Journal of Asian American Studies, and The Journal of American History.

Currently, he is working on four book projects on the following topics:

  • Economic crisis and radical activism in Detroit
  • Asian Americans in the media spotlight
  • Asian American community activism and the politics of multiracial urban space
  • A community-authored oral history of Japanese Americans in Detroit [3]

Rashida Tlaib connection


Rashida Tlaib with Scott Kurashige, August 2019.

Stephanie Chang connection

Grace Lee Boggs remains one of the most iconic figures in Detroit history. At once an author, activist, philosopher and feminist, she challenged individuals to think critically about their own activism, and empowered countless communities to create change on their own terms.

That sentiment is echoed in one of her most notable quotes: “We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.” A message that also resonates in the work of Detroit Lover and Michigan State Representative, Stephanie Chang.

“Grace really cared about Detroit and inspired so many people to rethink the way we do things in our communities, whether in education, the economy or simply the value we give our neighborhoods. You could never really have a conversation with her without being given some type of assignment, like an article to read or some issue to think and write about. And she especially loved hearing what young people had to say about issues in their communities.”

Chang’s own passion for serving others was galvanized during her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan.

“I majored in psychology and minored in Asian/Pacific Islander American (A/PIA) Studies, and was active as a student organizer on a lot of issues affecting students of color on campus. I actually wanted to be a civil rights lawyer, so my first few years of college I was planning to go to law school.”

Those plans began to change as she progressed through school though.

“I had two professors — Emily Lawsin & Scott Kurashige — who were very active in Detroit and got me involved with the Detroit Asian Youth Project. It was through that and our A/PIA Studies program that I met Grace Lee Boggs. She came to our closing ceremony in 2005 and somehow knew that I wanted to stick around Detroit, so she invited me to be her live-in assistant. Many years later, I served as the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Boggs School working with friends I had met those first two years in Detroit.”

She accepted the offer and moved to Detroit, beginning a new chapter that would come to define much of her career moving forward.

“I lived at the Boggs Center for two years and it really influenced the way I view the history of Detroit, as well as my perspective on grassroots organizing in neighborhoods. It also introduced me to people like Jackie, from Avalon, and other people that were doing great work with their communities. It not only shaped how I approach things as an organizer, but also as a legislator and Detroiter.”

Despite her growing commitment to service, politics didn’t enter the picture until later.

“Politics weren’t really on my radar. I was working as an organizer on a number of different issues — affirmative action, immigrant rights, voting rights, criminal justice reforms — then Rashida Tlaib and other friends asked me to consider running for office when Rashida reached her term limit. I was reluctant at first, but I ultimately realized it was a great opportunity to make a difference in a bigger way.”.[4]

Film screening protest

BDS South Africa May 13, 2014 ·

DANNY GLOVER & OTHERS BACK CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL - Film Actor Danny Glover & Others Back The Cultural Boycott of Israel and Object to Israeli Film Screening

Hollywood star Danny Glover, philosopher Grace Lee Boggs and ten others have released a public statement backing the cultural boycott of Israel and denouncing the inclusion of the film that they appear in "American Revolutionary: the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs" in an Israeli government-sponsored film festival.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine, and support their call for cultural and academic boycott of Israel,” Glover and others say in a statement sent to the online news publication, The Electronic Intifada . The statement is co-signed with ten other individuals involved with the award-winning documentary that focuses on the life and work of the 98-year-old Boggs.

Student activist

In 1993 Scott Kurashige was a student activist, and graduate student in Asian Studies at the UOC, Los Angeles. He contributed an article to Freedom Road Socialist Organization's Forward Motion March/April edition, with assistance from George Cheng, and Jeff Chang.


Scott Kurashige is one of thousands whose lives were immensely touched by Yuri Kochiyama.

Not all of those people are Asian American, but for those who are, Yuri directly and indirectly helped us connect our own identity struggles to the broader and more radical struggle for human liberation.

Kurashige's first encounter with Yuri Kochiyama was in the fall of 1990. She was among the featured speakers at the landmark conference Malcolm X: Radical Tradition and a Legacy of Struggle, held in New York City to mark the 25th anniversary of Malcolm’s assassination.

In fact it wasn’t much of an encounter at all. We had driven into the city from out of town and I missed Yuri’s panel on the opening day. I only remember seeing this small-framed, bespectacled elderly East Asian woman sitting in the audience many rows away in a large auditorium. One of my friends spotted Yuri’s name listed in the program and recalled hearing of a Japanese American woman who was Malcolm’s close friend. Another friend said, “She must have been the woman whom people were constantly coming up to hug and kiss.
Scott Kurashige (top left) with Yuri Kochiyama, George McKinney and other participants at the Serve the People Conference at UCLA in May 1998

Having been immersed within the old Eurocentric curriculum "I never took seriously in high school, I went into college with little sense of direction or purpose. I was quite clear that I was too much of a slacker or smart ass to pursue the stereotypical Asian American path of science, engineering, or medicine. That left business as the default option. Money is the medium of exchange in a capitalist order, and it’s an easily quantifiable way to measure success when you don’t have higher cultural or humanitarian aspiration"s.

My politicization began in 1988, when I decided I ought to at least read the newspaper on a regular basis and become an “informed” American voter. For a variety of reasons—the controversy over Iran-Contra, the ballooning deficit, rebelling against my Republican-leaning father—I had developed a superficially bad taste for Reagan and Bush. During the primary season I somehow committed to Michael Dukakis (Jesse Jackson had seemed a bit too extreme) and subsequently volunteered for his presidential campaign during my sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dukakis was in his own way a decent and down-to-earth guy. Some years later, I even crossed paths with him riding the shuttle bus at UCLA. I thought about introducing myself and telling him of the formative role he had played in my turn toward radical activism. Who knows where my life might have headed if he had won? But combined with my increasing exposure to the sharp forms of racial segregation and class inequality that existed in Philly, Dukakis’s colossal defeat led directly to my search for a deeper and more radical analysis of social change that would take me far beyond the limits of mainstream political thought.
What I most immediately felt was the palpable divide between the wealthy campus and its impoverished surroundings (that have since been spectacularly gentrified). I changed majors from economics to history, and truth be told my focus was really African American history. The black/white contradiction was so sharp in the city that I felt I couldn’t make sense of my place in the world without studying it.
What I learned in those classes has stayed with me to this day. I still consider African American Studies to be one of my primary areas of work and scholarship. And yet, despite my altered course, my undergrad curriculum never truly addressed the concerns, dilemmas, and confusion I felt as an Asian American living in a city and nation that were largely defined in the binary discourse of race relations.
But the most important thing to recall is that the critical lessons in history and politics I received came from outside the classroom. The same is generally true for most young people today. At the University of Michigan, popular education and consciousness raising continues through extracurricular programs and events held in the Yuri Kochiyama Lounge and through outreach to high school students through the Yuri Kochiyama Project.

One of the seminal moments for Kurashige was meeting Yuri in 1991 at a small campus event organized by Ellen Somekawa for Penn’s Greenfield Intercultural Center. Yuri came by herself, taking a series of trains from Harlem and accepting a token honorarium. I was immediately transfixed—though I’m embarrassed to admit now that I was not simply moved by her wisdom, I was also amazed in an ageist fashion that she was still organizing at the age of 70! (n.b. I’m writing this while preparing for the political activities surrounding Grace Lee Boggs’s ninety-ninth birthday.)

We were blown away by Yuri’s sweeping view of history and fierce commitment to revolutionary activism, complemented by her unmistakable humility and eagerness to learn from others. I remember we were contemplating among the group how Asian Americans should respond to the community boycott of the Korean American-owned Red Apple Store in Brooklyn. When I said I thought it was important to find some common point of struggle, Yuri asked me to elaborate on that thought. Then she offered encouraging praise after I said something loosely coherent about African Americans and Asian Americans needing to come together to condemn the banks for redlining and exploitation of communities of color. I still have a tape recording of that presentation somewhere in storage.

Next I was given the honor to write her entry for the Japanese American National Museum’s history encyclopedia. Several years later, I went to see her in Harlem to ask if she would participate in the Serve the People Conference, which I helped coordinate in Los Angeles in 1998. In their joint appearance, Yuri and Grace Lee Boggs dropped bombs of wisdom and brought down the house. Many people have since told me what a historic and life-changing gathering that was. To the best of my knowledge, it’s the only time Yuri and Grace ever shared the stage.

Visiting Yuri in her high-rise apartment complex was an unforgettable experience. Fortified by countless tons of concrete, it was redolent of America’s aborted mid-20th century effort to provide affordable housing for the masses—the exact sort of structures that have been disparaged and torn down in big cities all over the map, beginning with the infamous demolition of Minoru Yamasaki’s Pruitt-Igoe and the more recent destruction of much-maligned but culturally rich places like Chicago’s Cabrini Green and Detroit’s Brewster Projects.

Kurashige's friend Eric Tang had told him that the first time he visited Yuri, his brother taught him to “bring a bear.”

While I utterly failed that first-time visitor test, I tried to atone by giving Yuri a plush UCLA bruin as a thank you for speaking at the Serve the People Conference. The following year I bought her a Cal bear when she spoke at the Asian Left Forum at UC Berkeley. For some reason, she decided to mention me twice in connection with these events in her autobiography, Passing It On. The fact that many other folks worked much more closely with Yuri than I did shows how much she went out of her way to acknowledge every respect paid to her and honor every contribution large or small to movement building.[6]



In 1996 Scott Kurashige was a contributing editor to Freedom Road Socialist Organization's Forward Motion.

He was also a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization's Asian Pacific American Commission.

Forward Motion, Spring 1996

AA Movement group

Eric Mar, May 1, 1998.


I think this is a Ryan Suda - black lava design, but I could be wrong. [Mooko says the artist is Phloe Pontaoe who did this for Black Lava]

More on the history of the AA Movement group - — with Emily P. Lawsin, Kathy Masaoka, Mark Masaoka, Glenn Omatsu, George McKinney, D Rikio Mooko, Ryan Suda, Kim Geron, SunHyung Lee, Kye Liang, Scott Kurashige and Michael Liu at UCLA Asian American Studies Center.

"Support Bill Ayers"

In October 2008, several thousand college professors, students and academic staff signed a statement Support Bill Ayers in solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.

In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ayers had come under considerable media scrutiny, sparked by his relationship to presidential candidate Barack Obama.

We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack...
We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.

Scott Kurashige of the University of Michigan signed the statement[7].

"Remaking Urban America"

Asian Americans United June 7, 2009:

MANY THANKS to everyone -- speakers, community organizations, Drexel's School of Education -- who made this community dialogue such a success!!


Photo of AAU members at "Remaking Urban America" sponsored by Drexel's Multicultural Collaborative on June 5.

Bret Flaherty, Scott Kurashige, Neeta Patel, Ellen Somekawa, Helen Gym.

With Grace Lee Boggs

Asian Americans United April 17, 2011:


Asian Americans United with activist writers Scott Kurashige & Grace Lee Boggs in NYC — with Emily Lawsin, Scott Kurashige and Joan May T. Cordova, and not captioned Neeta Patel.

Asian Americans United - 28th Anniversary

Asian Americans United November 19, 2013:

Cheers and thanks to all who volunteered (Go AAU, go!), sponsored, hosted, donated, presented, emceed, deejayed, cooked, mixed sangria, performed and celebrated at AAU's memorable 28th anniversary benefit concert/dance featuring Nobuko Miyamoto with Theo Gonzalves! Intergenerational groups presented AAU's Standing Up for Justice Awards to Grayce Uyehara, John Elliott Churchville, and 1Love Movement. Emcee Kao Khue wove the program together like poetry.

Nobuko wrote and sang a new song for the first time: ”You are the ones we've been waiting for...” And all joined in singing: ”We are the ones we've been waiting for.”

...with so much gratitude for all who build communities and work for justice.


<3 — with Eric Joselyn, Duong Nghe Ly, Matt Tae, Regina Liu Kerr, Lai Har Cheung, Srey Boss, Chi-Ser Tran, Grace Rustia, Emily P. Lawsin, Scott Kurashige, Mary Yee, Laurent Widjaya, Paul Uyehara, Alix Mariko Webb, Rorng Sorn, Senn Font, Linh Nguyen, Bryan Mercer, K. Naroen Chhin, Masaru Edmund Nakawatase, Neeta Patel, Tai Joselyn, Doua Xiong, Renyu Wu, John Elliott Churchville, Kavita Levy, Judy At Aau, Theo Gonzalves, Ana Cruz, Janeya Hisle, Ellen Somekawa, Wei Chen, Helen Gym, Sookyung Oh, Dawn Werme Pratson, Xu Lin, Betty Lui, Peter Van Do, Nobuko Miyamoto, Kao Nhia Kue, Jean Hunt, Teresa Engst, Alice Vuong and Maxine Chang.

AAU event

Friday, April 29. 2013 Asian Americans United Exhibit Closing Night & Special Forum on the Shifting Politics of Race at Cedar Works.

Exhibit Closing Night: (5:30 to 6:45 pm) Your last chance to view AAU’s exhibit, We Cannot Keep Silent, at the Philadelphia Folklore Project (735 S. 50th Street). Curated by Helen Gym, Ellen Somekawa and Joanie May Cordova. Featuring photos by Harvey Finkle and Kathy Shimizu, first person voices of boycott participants, and oral histories.

Special Forum (7pm): Speaker presentations followed by dialogue time. Light Refreshments will be served.


  • Scott Kurashige, Ph.D: Asian American Movements, Anti-Asian Violence & the Intersection with African American History
  • John Elliott Churchville, Ph.D., J.D.: African American Movements in Philadelphia & the Intersection with Asian American History.[8]

Ear to the Ground Project

Ear to the Ground Project;

We would like to express our deep respect and appreciation for everyone who took the time to talk with us, and the organizations that generously hosted us during our travels. Interviews were confidential, but the following people have agreed to have their names listed for this publication:

Most of those listed were connected to Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Scott Kurashige was among those on the list. [9]