A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle of Asians in America, a 1973 Paredon Records release, is widely recognized as the first album of Asian American music. Chris Kando Iijima, Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto, and William “Charlie” Chin deliver their activist message through simply–recorded acoustic guitars and vocals, with the occasional accompaniment of bongos, bass, and di zi, a Chinese flute. Soul, jazz, and blues elements are interwoven in the American folk style of the songs. The artists were also influenced by their solidarity with African American and Latin American social movements; for example, their musical collaboration with Puerto Rican duo Flora y Pepe and exposure to Latino artists while living in New York. The liner notes include a political statement by the musicians, lyrics, and a list of Asian American publications from the era:
The album Yellow Pearl released on Paredon was the poetic and groundbreaking “A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle by Asians in America,” which included anthems like “We Are the Children” and “Free the Land,” featuring backing vocals from Mutulu Shakur (his stepson, Tupac Shakur, sang along to “A Grain of Sand” as a child, according to Smithsonian Folkways Magazine). It was recorded in two and a half days at a small New York studio and that no-frills spontaneity brings the music alive still.
The National Acupuncture Detoxification (NADA) is a not-for-profit training and advocacy organization, encourages community wellness through the use of a standardized auricular acupuncture protocol for behavioral health, including addictions, mental health, and disaster & emotional trauma. This organization originated from Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s development and use of what is now known as the NADA protocol to treat heroin and methadone addiction. Thousands of healers continue to be trained through NADA to carry on this healing work in communities all over the world. Due to Dr. Shakur’s foundational role in bringing acupuncture to underserved communities in NYC, organizations such as NADA support his freedom.
[Nehanda spent decades as a political exile in Cuba and passed on January 30, 2019 at her home in Havana. She is an important figure in the history of Dr. Mutulu Shakur]
Carry it on now. Nehanda Isoke Abiodun, is a name that I am proud to have for many reasons. My first and last name were given to me by very close comrades on my 30th birthday and when Zimbabwe was fighting for its independence. Nehanda was a spiritualist revolutionary who lived in the 1800s and led the first war of liberation against the Rhodesians and I pray that I do her memory justice with my attempts to gain freedom for my people. Abiodun, means born at the time of war and for me was more than appropriate since New Afrikans (African-Americans) born in the Americas have been at war against those that have oppressed them for centuries. Isoke was a name given to me by movement Sisters in the early 1990’s here in Cuba and means a precious gift from God. I cried during the ceremony because it was a blessing to know that my efforts for our collective freedom was appreciated by my peers.