Asian-American journalist and activist, also a member of Princeton's first graduating class of women
"Helen Zia is a Chinese-American journalist and activist for Asian American and LGBTQ rights…
She entered Princeton University in the early 1970s and was a member of its first graduating class of women. As a student, Zia was among the founders of the Asian American Students Association. She was also a vocal anti-war activist, voicing her Opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, a firm believer in feminism, and active in movements creating cross racial unity among low income people of color. Zia entered medical school at Tufts University in 1974, but quit in 1976. She eventually moved to Detroit, Michigan, working as a construction laborer, an autoworker and a community organizer, after which she discovered her life’s work as a journalist and writer…
Zia's time in Detroit overlapped with the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982. Zia played a crucial role in bringing federal civil rights charges against the perpetrators of Vincent's killing and in igniting an Asian American response to the crime through her journalism and advocacy work. At the time, little existed in terms of a cohesive and organized Asian American movement in Detroit, but Zia's journalism helped to galvanize the Asian American community to demand justice for Vincent Chin.
She has also been outspoken on issues ranging from civil rights and peace to women's rights and countering hate violence and homophobia. In 1997, she testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the racial impact of the news media.
She traveled to Beijing in 1995 to the United Nations Fourth World Congress on Women as part of a journalists of color delegation.
She has appeared in numerous news programs and films; her work on the 1980s Asian American landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence is documented in the Academy Award nominated film, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” and she was profiled in Bill Moyers' PBS documentary, “Becoming American: The Chinese Experience.”
Zia was named one of the most influential Asian Americans of the decade by A. Magazine. Zia has received numerous journalism awards for her ground-breaking stories; her investigation of date rape at the University of Michigan led to campus demonstrations and an overhaul of its policies. Zia received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Law School of the City University of New York for bringing important matters of law and civil rights into public view.
Zia was the executive editor of Ms. Magazine 1989 to 1992. Zia also serves on the board of directors for Women's Media Center. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, books and anthologies, including Ms., The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Essence, The Advocate, and OUT." (1)