Efforts to establish and recognize Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month were first conceived by Jeanie Jew, a former Capitol Hill staffer who had first approached New York Congressman Frank Horton Horton about the idea in the mid-1970s. In 1978, Horton and former California Rep. Norman Mineta introduced a bill that called for the week beginning on May 4 to be designated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. President Jimmy Carter then signed it into law and the commemorative occasion began as a week, but it was not designated as an annual celebration.
Finally in 1992, Horton introduced a bill that called for May to be designated as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The month of May was selected for two reasons: first, to commemorate the arrival of the first known Japanese immigrant to the U.S. on May 7, 1843; second, to honor the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 — the building of which up to 20,000 Chinese workers participated in. (Source: Time Magazine)
There are many ways you can learn, reflect and act in support of the AAPI community. Below is a list of ways to learn and act in support of AAPI communities. This list is not comprehensive, nor is it exclusively for use during AAPI Heritage Month. Consider ways you can continue to engage, honor and celebrate beyond the month.
- Watch We Are Not a Stereotype, Breaking Down Asian Pacific American Bias by the Smithsonian Institute
- Read National Geographic’s America’s Long History of Scapegoating Asian Its Citizens
- Watch the play Question 27, Question 28 hosted by Japanese American National Museum May 8-21
- Listen to Blood on Gold Mountain podcast series about the 1871 LA Chinatown massacre
- Attend CAAMFest the nation’s largest festival celebrating Asian-American stories, hosted by the Center for Asian American Media, May 13-23
- Attend a Hollaback! Bystander Intervention Workshop. This FREE one-hour training will teach you Hollaback!’s 5D’s of bystander intervention methodology. Available dates (registration required):
- Thursday, May 20th 2021 (3:00 p.m.)
- Monday, May 24th 2021(2:00 p.m.)
- Read and share Amplify Asian Voices | Readings + Resources with reflection questions, compiled by Jezz Chung
- Visit the Nozoni Park kiosk in Chandler or Poston Memorial Monument to Japanese-American internment camp sites in Arizona