Emily Lawsin is a Lecturer IV in Women's Studies and American Culture, at the University of Michigan. Originally from "She-attle", Washington, she joined the U-M faculty in 2000, after teaching Asian American Studies for six years at California State University, Northridge, where she won awards for her dedication to students.
She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Filipino American National Historical Society and volunteers with the Detroit Asian Youth Project, Paaralang Pilipino Cultural School, and the Japanese American History Project of Michigan. She co-authored, with Joseph Galura, Filipino Women in Detroit, 1945-1955: Oral Histories from the Filipino American Oral History Project of Michigan. Her poetry and essays on war brides, students, pedagogy, and writers have been published in numerous journals and anthologies. An oral historian and spoken word performance poet, she has performed on radio and stage throughout the United States and Manila.
M.A. in Asian American Studies (Terminal Degree), University of California, Los Angeles, 2000.
Stephanie Chang connection
Grace Lee Boggs remains one of the most iconic figures in Detroit history. At once an author, activist, philosopher and feminist, she challenged individuals to think critically about their own activism, and empowered countless communities to create change on their own terms.
That sentiment is echoed in one of her most notable quotes: “We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.” A message that also resonates in the work of Detroit Lover and Michigan State Representative, Stephanie Chang.
“Grace really cared about Detroit and inspired so many people to rethink the way we do things in our communities, whether in education, the economy or simply the value we give our neighborhoods. You could never really have a conversation with her without being given some type of assignment, like an article to read or some issue to think and write about. And she especially loved hearing what young people had to say about issues in their communities.”
Chang’s own passion for serving others was galvanized during her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan.
“I majored in psychology and minored in Asian/Pacific Islander American (A/PIA) Studies, and was active as a student organizer on a lot of issues affecting students of color on campus. I actually wanted to be a civil rights lawyer, so my first few years of college I was planning to go to law school.”
Those plans began to change as she progressed through school though.
“I had two professors — Emily Lawsin & Scott Kurashige — who were very active in Detroit and got me involved with the Detroit Asian Youth Project. It was through that and our A/PIA Studies program that I met Grace Lee Boggs. She came to our closing ceremony in 2005 and somehow knew that I wanted to stick around Detroit, so she invited me to be her live-in assistant. Many years later, I served as the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Boggs School working with friends I had met those first two years in Detroit.”
She accepted the offer and moved to Detroit, beginning a new chapter that would come to define much of her career moving forward.
“I lived at the Boggs Center for two years and it really influenced the way I view the history of Detroit, as well as my perspective on grassroots organizing in neighborhoods. It also introduced me to people like Jackie, from Avalon, and other people that were doing great work with their communities. It not only shaped how I approach things as an organizer, but also as a legislator and Detroiter.”
Despite her growing commitment to service, politics didn’t enter the picture until later.
“Politics weren’t really on my radar. I was working as an organizer on a number of different issues — affirmative action, immigrant rights, voting rights, criminal justice reforms — then Rashida Tlaib and other friends asked me to consider running for office when Rashida reached her term limit. I was reluctant at first, but I ultimately realized it was a great opportunity to make a difference in a bigger way.”.
With Grace Lee Boggs
Asian Americans United April 17, 2011:
Asian Americans United with activist writers Scott Kurashige & Grace Lee Boggs in NYC http://www.GraceLeeBoggs.com/ — with Emily Lawsin, Scott Kurashige and Joan May T. Cordova, and not captioned Neeta Patel.
Asian Americans United - 28th Anniversary
Asian Americans United November 19, 2013:
Cheers and thanks to all who volunteered (Go AAU, go!), sponsored, hosted, donated, presented, emceed, deejayed, cooked, mixed sangria, performed and celebrated at AAU's memorable 28th anniversary benefit concert/dance featuring Nobuko Miyamoto with Theo Gonzalves! Intergenerational groups presented AAU's Standing Up for Justice Awards to Grayce Uyehara, John Elliott Churchville, and 1Love Movement. Emcee Kao Khue wove the program together like poetry.
Nobuko wrote and sang a new song for the first time: ”You are the ones we've been waiting for...” And all joined in singing: ”We are the ones we've been waiting for.”
...with so much gratitude for all who build communities and work for justice.
<3 — with Eric Joselyn, Duong Nghe Ly, Matt Tae, Regina Liu Kerr, Lai Har Cheung, Srey Boss, Chi-Ser Tran, Grace Rustia, Emily P. Lawsin, Scott Kurashige, Mary Yee, Laurent Widjaya, Paul Uyehara, Alix Mariko Webb, Rorng Sorn, Senn Font, Linh Nguyen, Bryan Mercer, K. Naroen Chhin, Masaru Edmund Nakawatase, Neeta Patel, Tai Joselyn, Doua Xiong, Renyu Wu, John Elliott Churchville, Kavita Levy, Judy At Aau, Theo Gonzalves, Ana Cruz, Janeya Hisle, Ellen Somekawa, Wei Chen, Helen Gym, Sookyung Oh, Dawn Werme Pratson, Xu Lin, Betty Lui, Peter Van Do, Nobuko Miyamoto, Kao Nhia Kue, Jean Hunt, Teresa Engst, Alice Vuong and Maxine Chang.
AA Movement group
Eric Mar, May 1, 1998.
More on the history of the AA Movement group - http://apimovement.com/history/radical-resistance-conservative-times-new-asian-american-organizations-1 — with Emily P. Lawsin, Kathy Masaoka, Mark Masaoka, Glenn Omatsu, George McKinney, D Rikio Mooko, Ryan Suda, Kim Geron, SunHyung Lee, Kye Liang, Scott Kurashige and Michael Liu at UCLA Asian American Studies Center.
"Support Bill Ayers"
In October 2008, several thousand college professors, students and academic staff signed a statement Support Bill Ayers in solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.
In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ayers had come under considerable media scrutiny, sparked by his relationship to presidential candidate Barack Obama.
- We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack...
- We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.
Emily Lawsin of University of Michigan signed the statement.