HomeBad Ass AsiansLife of Asian Am Studies pioneer Betty Lee Sung celebrated

Life of Asian Am Studies pioneer Betty Lee Sung celebrated

By Akemi Tamanaha & Shirley L Ng, AsAmNews

Around 70 people gathered to celebrate the life of author and activist Dr. Betty Lee Sung at an invite-only funeral on Saturday in Rocklin, MD. Dr. Sung passed away in January at the age of 98.

Her loved ones held at open casket funeral, dressing Dr. Sung in a Chinese-styled jacket in royal blue. A copy of her book Mountain of Gold, which detailed the struggles of Chinese Americans, was placed in the casket with her.

Dr. Sung was born in America but moved back to China with parents when she was a young girl. Eventually, she returned to America after fleeing the Japanese invasion.

Despite her limited means, Dr. Sung became the first Chinese American woman to attend college. She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Illinois, her MLS from Queens College and her PhD from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York.

By Shirley L Ng

Many people considered Dr. Sung to be a trailblazer for Asian American studies. She founded an Asian American studies program at the City College of New York in the 1970s.

“The path she laid for a better future for women and Asians, the laughs and tears, her hardships and joy are part of the fabric of our lives,” her eldest daughter Tina, said at her funeral.

“Early on, Mom showed that defiance, exhibited that fighting spirit for equality for women and Asians her entire life.” 

The family honored Dr. Sung with a table display of her published books and research work. A second table included many photo albums of her with family and friends, including a photo book of her 90th birthday.

A burial will take place February 21 at 1 p.m. at the Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale, NY. A memorial service will be held June 11, 2023 in New York City at the Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street.

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