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Kathleen Wong was raised in Oakland, California to a mother who worked as a mechanic and a father who worked as a butcher. After initially dropping out of obtaining an undergraduate degree in the sciences at UC Davis, she decided to go into equity work in community programs in San Francisco. Eventually she went back to college and obtained her PhD. She now works as a Chief Diversity Officer at San Jose State University. She identifies as Chinese American and a woman of color. She is also a partner and a mother. She believes that the Auntie Sewing Squad saved her soul at a time of social unrest and personal loss during COVID-19.

Thematic Summary

(00:00:00) Wong Lau discusses her unique background growing up in a diverse community in Oakland. (00:08:19) She shares that her grandmother taught her how to sew their own clothes in order to save money. (00:11:48) She then described her initial admiration of the Squad and how it helped to restore her faith in humanity. (00:19:47) She discusses her mask campaign for the Wood Street unhoused community. (00:24:50) Wong Lau recalls several moments in her life that made her decide to fight for racial equality, including experiencing racism and sexism on her college campus of University of California Davis in the late 1970s. (00:32:26) She discusses the transition to online and how it has impacted her racial equity work. (00:35:38) She explains why policing is not the solution to stopping AAPI hate crimes. (00:41:42) Wong Lau shares her earliest memory of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and its impact on her immigrant parents.

Interview Date



Heaven Razon; Katherine Colvin

Interview with Kathleen Wong Lau



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