Richard Aoki was one of the most prominent Asian Americans involved in the civil rights movement in the United States. He is remembered for the personal impact he has made on the Asian American community, as well as for the social impact he has made on promoting the civil rights movement of marginalized populations. Among his accomplishments, Aoki was a founding member of the Asian American Political Alliance, a leader in the Third World Liberation Front Strike at UC Berkeley and co-coordinator for the first Asian American Studies program at UC Berkeley. Born in San Leandro, California, in 1938, Aoki is a Sansei Japanese-American. During WWII, he and his family were interned at the Topaz concentration camp in Utah. After graduating from Berkeley High School, Aoki spent eight years serving in the US Army, first as a medic and later in the infantry. After becoming disillusioned with the US growing involvement in Vietnam, Aoki received a honorable discharge from the Army and decided to continue his education at Merritt Community College. During his time at Merrit Community College, Aoki maintained close relations with Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the founders of the Black Panther Party. As a field marshal in the Black Panther Party, Aoki was one of the first members and the only Asian American to have a formal leadership position. Aoki is a legendary icon, and a inspiration for many Asian American students in the struggle for civil rights for the under-privileged minority populations.