Erika Lee is President-Elect of the Organization of American Historians and a Regents Professor, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. The granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, Lee was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and testified before Congress in its historic hearings on anti-Asian discrimination and violence. She is the author of four award-winning books including The Making of Asian America (2015) and America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in America (2019), which won the American Book Award and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, as well as other honors. Named to many best books lists and identified as an essential book illuminating the Trump era and the 2020 elections, it was recently re-published with a new epilogue on xenophobia and racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Making of Asian America was also recently republished with a new postscript about the latest campaigns against Asian Americans. Lee directs three major digital humanities projects: Immigrant Stories, #ImmigrationSyllabus, and Immigrants in COVID America and also regularly appears in the media, including featured appearances in the PBS film series “Asian Americans,” the History Channel’s “America: The Promised Land,” and interviews with CNN, PBS NewsHour, National Public Radio, the BBC, the New York Times, ABC News, NBC News, and many podcasts. Her opinion pieces have been published in the Washington Post, Time, the New York Daily News, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times.
As the fastest growing group in the United States, Asian Americans are helping to change America. But much of their long history has been forgotten. In a lecture that spans centuries and continents, Lee shows that the long history of Asian Americans offers a new way of understanding America itself, its complicated histories of race and immigration, and its place in the world today.