Lisa Gray and her work towards AAPI Hate Crimes


Courtesy of Lisa Gray

In March, Lisa Gray organized a rally with more than 300 people and over 30 organizations around Spirit Plaza in downtown Detroit to fight against Asian Hate Crimes.

Emily Hu and Alex Hannah

On March 27, 2021, more than 300 people and over 30 organizations gathered around Spirit Plaza in downtown Detroit to fight against Asian Hate Crimes. As they marched 2-3 miles along Woodward, increasingly more people joined in. The person who initiated all of this was Lisa Gray. 

Lisa Gray, born in Beijing China, started off working at BBC in London for over six years. She and her husband moved to America in 1998, for her husband’s job. She was on maternity leave at the time. When she moved to America, she felt like she knew nobody, after having been well known by many people in London. This pushed her more into community service and to work within the community, which helped her feel a sense of belonging.

“I worked so hard to serve the community because I think I benefited from it,” Gray said. “When I started getting involved with the community, I found my connection in a new country.”

As Gray became more involved in the community, such as being on the board of American Citizens of Justice(ACJ), Chinese Association of Greater Detroit(CAGD), North American Chinese Coalition (NACC) and serving on the Governors Michigan Asian & Pacific American Affairs Commission(MAPAAC), she decided to start her own television station, Dragon Eagle TV and APIA (Asian Pacific Islander American) News Network, to be the voice of the Asian & Pacific Islander Americans and promote growth, culture and diversity.

“I think I’ve done a lot of good things, but just lately, what made me so proud and what I think is my greatest achievement, is that I started this media,” Gray said. “It’s allowing me to do lots more and lots of things I could not do before. It’s a lot more influential.”

On her show she has interviewed many influential people such as Governor Whitmore, Senator Gary Peters, Haley Stevens, Brenda Lawrence, and countless others. In 2021, she decided to take a step further. 

Gray decided to organize the rally because as she said, “Asians have worked hard to be part of this country, and to call it home.” 

She was frustrated that Asian Americans are living in fear during the pandemic, and she thought it was time to say, “Enough is enough.” 

“We are Asians. But we are Americans,” Gray said. “We’re Asian American, but above all, we are all human beings. We live here and our children are born here. We’re working hard in this nation. This is our home. America is our country.”

With an idea forming, the next step for her was to get other organizations on board to host a rally in downtown Detroit in front of the Spirit Plaza. She also needed to get a permit for the rally, and to make sure that the gathering would be safe.

“The biggest challenge in organizing the rally was getting many of the organization’s leaders on board,” Gray said. 

She started off by talking to the City Detroit Immigrant Affairs Office then the main organizations such as APIAVote Michigan, American Citizens for Justice (ACJ). When they agreed and replied that they wanted to do the rally, gradually, increasingly more organizations followed suit. The rally was planned and held with great success.

“The really good thing, I have to say, is that it wasn’t just the number of people, it’s the diversity of people,” Gray said. “And that was very surprising, because we’re talking about anti-Asian, we were trying to gather the Asian communities, to go there to have our voice heard, to raise our voice, but on that day, when we’re looking at a crowd, it’s just all kinds of people.”

On the day of the rally, Gray was happily surprised to see not just Asian Americans, but all kinds of people from different ethnic backgrounds.

“We had African Americans, we had Hispanic and we had people from Jewish communities, people from our Arabic community, and it was just amazing,” Gray said. “Great thanks to those amazing partners.”

Her goal of spreading the word of Asian Americans succeeded.

“Be confident. Share your culture with others,” she said. “The more people who understand each other’s heritage, the less prejudice and hate there will be. So, remember, diversity is our strength in this great land.”