API Summit 2023 Speakers

Helen Zia

Writer and Activist

Helen Zia is a writer and activist: Just two months ago in April, she launched the Vincent Chin Institute to counter hate violence and promote solidarity, while her latest book, Last Boat out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese who Fled Mao’s Revolution, was one of NPR’s Best Books of 2019 and a finalist for a 2020 PEN prize. President Bill Clinton twice quoted from her first book, Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, which chronicles the civil rights struggles of Asian Americans in the contemporary U.S.; her book, My Country Versus Me, about Chinese American nuclear physicist Wen Ho Lee, who was falsely accused by the FBI of being a spy for the PRC.

Helen Zia is the daughter of immigrants from China and was born and raised in New Jersey. Her role as a leading activist in the landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence is featured in Who Killed Vincent Chin? In 2010, she was a witness in the case for marriage equality that went to the Supreme Court. A graduate of Princeton University’s first coeducational class, Helen has received two honorary doctorates. After attending medical school, she became a community organizer, construction laborer, autoworker, and after which she discovered her life’s work as a writer.