May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM)! We all can join in celebrating the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
If you didn’t know, the description Asian/Pacific heritage encompasses a wide variety of wonderful people and places. Here is a comprehensive list of the areas that comprise the term Asian/Pacific.
- All of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia including New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.
- Polynesia, Including: New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island.
- Micronesia, Including: Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia.
As you can see, there are many diverse regions with many reasons to celebrate their beautiful heritage, but where did Asian Pacific American Heritage Month get its start?
Like most commemorative months, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month originated with Congress. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage week. This resolution proposed that the President should “proclaim a week, which is to include the seventh and tenth of the month, during the first ten days in May of 1979 as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.” The following month, Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga from Hawaii introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed and on October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration.
During the next decade, presidents passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week until 1990, when President George H. W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend the week-long celebration to a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.
The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
We can all be thankful for the amazing achievements and contributions as well as celebrate the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.