Sonia Lee

Sonia Lee

Associate Professor, American Studies

Associate Professor, Latino Studies Program

Associate Director, Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society


  • Ph.D., U.S. History, Harvard University, 2007
  • B.A., U.S. History, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 1999
  • B.A. with Honors, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 1999

Research interests

Black and Latinx studies; social movements, constructions of race and ethnicity, trauma and healing, mental health, abolition

About Sonia Lee

Sonia Lee is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Latinx Studies at Indiana University. Her first book, Building a Latino Civil Rights Movement: Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in New York City (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) traces the strategies used by Puerto Ricans and African Americans to conceptualize their racial and ethnic identities, and to build a common civil rights agenda in New York City from the 1950s through the 1970s. Her second book project, The Right to Be Well: Trauma, Healing, and Political Activism in Black and Brown Freedom Movements, seeks to uncover the history of trauma and healing within the Black and Brown freedom movements of the 1960s and 1970s. It also brings together the history of Black radicalism with that of substance abuse and mental health to highlight the intellectual contributions of drug users, mental health professionals, and political activists of color in the 1940s-80s.


Building a Latino Civil Rights Movement: Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Justice (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

“‘I Was the One Percenter:’ Manny Diaz and the Beginnings of a Black-Puerto Rican Coalition,” co-authored with Ande Diaz, Journal of American Ethnic History, 26: 3 (Spring 2007).

Selected honors + awards

  • Trustees Teaching Award, College of Arts & Sciences, Indiana University, 2020
  • Institute for Advanced Studies Recently Tenured Working Group Grant, Indiana University, 2018
  • New Frontiers of Creativity and Scholarship Grant, Indiana University, 2018
  • John W. Kluge Fellowship, Library of Congress, 2013-14 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2013

Courses recently taught

  • From Black Power to Abolition: Seeing Black Resistance through a Relational Lens
  • Blacks, Latinos, and Afro-Latinos: Constructing Difference & Identity
  • The Right to Be Well: Racial Trauma and Healing with an Abolitionist Lens
  • The Long Civil Rights Movement