An ‘Unlikely Activist’ in Chinatown

The May episode of CUNY TV’s “Asian American Life” marks Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by highlighting women who have helped change the lives of their fellow Americans, from an “unlikely activist” and suffragette in Chinatown to women today who speak up for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

The episode starts off at 0:30 with a segment on Mabel Lee, described as an “unlikely activist” who may get a post office in Chinatown named after her some 100 years after she joined the fight for women’s right to vote. Lee, who passed away in 1966, made headlines as a suffragette despite never being able to vote herself as a Chinese immigrant unable to become a citizen under the Chinese Exclusion Act. Her additional achievements include being the first Chinese woman to receive a Ph.D. from Columbia University and helping Chinese immigrants assimilate into American society.

At 6:51, meet the Asian-American women banding together to give a voice to victims of sexual harassment and violence.

Learn about the Asian Women Giving Circle, a group that pools together philanthropic money to fund projects started by Asian-American women and organizations, in the segment that starts at 13:52.

Finally, at 19:40, hear from Ai-jen Poo, a 2014 MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient and activist who fought for rights for domestic workers and human trafficking victims, and is now focusing on revamping the home health care system.

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