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Helen Zia's Biography

Member Info

San Francisco Bay Area
several marriages to the same woman, and fighting in the courts to stay married.
Dec 2008

Helen Zia is the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, a finalist for the prestigious Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize. President Bill Clinton quoted from Asian American Dreams at two separate speeches in the Rose Garden.  She is also coauthor, with Wen Ho Lee, of My Country Versus Me, which reveals what happened to the Los Alamos scientist who was falsely accused of being a spy for China in the "worst case since the Rosenbergs." She is an award-winning journalist and was the Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine.  Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, books and anthologies. She has received numerous journalism awards for her ground-breaking stories.

A second generation Chinese American, Helen Zia has been outspoken on issues ranging from civil rights and peace to women's rights and countering hate violence and homophobia.

In 1997 she coauthored a complaint to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and testified at commission hearings on the impact of bias in the campaign finance investigations. 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."

Helen 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.  She is a Fulbright Scholar, a writer in residence with New York University's APA Institute, and an expert fellow with the University of Southern California's Justice and Journalism program. She serves on the board of directors of the Women's Media Center, which was founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan. Helen was one of 79 people in North America who carried the Olympic Torch in the ceremonies held in San Francisco this year and her commentaries about China, activism and the Olympics were covered worldwide.

Helen is a member of Princeton's Class of 1973, the first coeducational class. After Princeton she attended medical school but quit after completing two years, then went to work as a construction laborer, an autoworker, and a community organizer, after which she discovered her life's work as a writer. 


social justice movements, contemporary history

Upcoming Works

current book in progress on Chinese diaspora at the time of the 1949 revolution


Sydelle Kramer

Recommended Links


Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Hyperion; Ms. Magazine