Alumni Author Visits with New Book

Andres David Lopez
The writer of “The Bridges Yuri Built: How Yuri Kochiyama Marched Across Movements,” Kai Naima Williams ‘12, visited with our 9-10s, fifth and sixth graders today.

Kai read us from her book, a biography about her Japanese-American freedom fighter great-grandmother, Yuri, who was incarcerated in prison camps during World War II and later became a Harlem activist during the civil rights movement. It was published last month.

Responding to questions from our students, Kai shared about the writing process, her sources, working with an illustrator and publisher, choosing a title, and more about Yuri.

When asked for advice she told our young writers to write as much as they can, to seek out friends who like to write, places where their work can be published, and mentors.

“I started taking myself seriously as a writer at your age, the 9-10s,” Kai said.

Her education benefited from her family legacy in activism, she said, but MCS also helped her develop her core values. A vivid memory is learning about the history of Jim Crow laws in her 4-5s class.

Kai said she recalled that memory, when she was first taught in an MCS classroom about legalized systemic racism, when writing her book.

“I knew and wanted to honor that children have the capacity to comprehend these things and to receive them and to want to contribute to making a difference,” she said.

“I’m just really happy to be here,” Kai said, referring to MCS. “It’s a really special moment.”
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