Social Activist And Civic Leader

Social Activist And Civic Leader

Written on 05/18/2022

Vijaya Lakshmi Emani was an Indian American social activist known for her work against domestic violence and was a civic leader among the Indian American community in Cleveland, Ohio. Starting with Northeast Ohio Telugu Association, followed by the Federation of Indian Community Associations and with Greater Cleveland Asian Community, she was the president of the Federation of India Community and a board member of the Federation of India Community Associations (FICA). 

As a single parent, she initiated support groups for those in similar situations. Emani's main goal was to help Indian-Americans overcome social mistreatment in the United States. She also opened a discussion about mass racial violence in the United States. Emani was instrumental in the setting up of the India Cultural Garden in 2002 at the Rockefeller Park in Cleveland, the India Garden in 2005, and a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in 2006.

Emani died in a road accident in Ohio in 2009, at the age of 51, on 20 October 2011, and President Barack Obama posthumously awarded her with the Presidential Citizens Medal for her courage in overcoming and speaking out against domestic abuse in the Indian-American community. The award was received by Emani's two daughters, Sujata and Nirmala, in the East Room of the White House.

Emani was described as "a role model for victims of domestic abuse."

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