May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
By Amy Liao
The month of May was officially designated as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month under the George H. W. Bush administration with the passing of Public Law 102-540. The month of May was chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the Transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.
Since the middle of the 19th century, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders charted their unique journey in American history. The multi-ethnic communities (from east and south Asian immigrants to the native Hawaiian and other Pacific islanders) endured many institutional discriminations such the infamous “Chinese Exclusion Act” in 1882 and the Japanese Encampment during World War II. Yet the AAPI communities thrived in this great nation that many times corrected paths and embraced differences into the melting pot.
Throughout the 180-year history, there were many AAPIs left their marks. From the 16-year-old Chinese immigrant Mabel Ping-Hua Lee who helped lead a 1912 Suffrage march, to Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu, honored by the US Postal Service by featuring in the Forever Stamps as the Manhattan project contributor and one of the most influential nuclear physicists in the 20th century. According to the Census Bureau, by 2019, there were more than 22 million residents in the US who identified as of AAPI origin or descents. This vibrant community has been weaved in every part of the American society, from Silicon valley big tech executives to the half a million business owners; from military service men and women to the doctors and nurses who fought in the frontline against Covid-19 and many others who are active contributors in the workforce of industries and government agencies.
This year, we celebrate AAPI heritage with a special highlight! On Tuesday, April 26, 2022, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to study the creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American history and culture. Let’s all learn from history, embrace diversity, and build a bright future together.