community conversations

Community Conversations: Building Black and Asian Solidarity

Asia Society Texas Center is hosting a powerful and meaningful virtual conversation on Oct. 8

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A free program is helping to shine a light on Asian American and Black women working towards cross cultural understanding.

The 6th annual Women's Leadership Series, hosted by Asia Society Texas Center, features Ruth Simmons, President of Prairie View A&M University and Helen Zia, a journalist and activist for the Asian American and LGBTQ communities.

The virtual event will explore the depth of Black and Asian American experiences in the U.S. and discuss overcoming racial conflict and division between communities.

NBC 5's Alanna Quillen, an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association, held a Community Conversation for NBC 5 this week with the two inspirational women to get a preview for next Thursday's program.

Click the video above to watch the full discussion.

"The Women's Leadership Series is one of the few programs in the U.S. to showcase and celebrate the accomplishments of diverse women who have made significant contributions in their fields,” says Dr. Anne Chao, Chair of the Women’s Leadership Series Committee.

“We bring together strong women leaders who serve as role models and an inspiration to the next generation. This is the time to critically examine the racial dynamics in our country, and the speakers of our next program, Dr. Ruth Simmons and Dr. Helen Zia, cast light on the work that needs to be done between the Asian American and African American communities as we work together for a just and equitable future."

Simmons is the first woman to serve as president at Prairie View A&M University and before that, she was the first African American president of an ivy league institution during her many years at Brown University. A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons held an appointment as a Professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States.

Zia is the daughter of immigrants from China and has been outspoken on issues ranging from human rights and peace to women’s rights and countering hate violence and homophobia. She has authored several stories and books on the subjects.

In 2000, her first book was published: Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, a finalist for the prestigious Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize. She has been active in many non-profit organizations, including Equality Now, AAJA, and KQED. 

Their program, moderated by award-winning journalist JuJu Chang, will delve into the dynamic relationship between the Asian and Black communities often overlooked by history. This program happens at a crucial time in America during calls for systemic change and racial justice that began following the brutal death of George Floyd.

The three women will share their insights into systemic racial and gender injustices, with guidance on how society can better build cross-racial understanding.

The webcast begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8. Admission is free but registration is required by clicking here.

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