May 1 marked the start of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which is celebrated each May to recognize the history, contributions, and achievements of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
May is officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by section 102 of title 36, United States Code. The observance originally began as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, which was established through a joint Congressional resolution in 1978 and was later expanded to a full month in 1992 The month of May was chosen due to two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: May 7, 1843, when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States, and May 10, 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed with substantial contributions from Chinese immigrant workers.
To commemorate this month-long observance, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Congressional Leaders released the following statements, some of which are published below:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
“Each May, we come together to celebrate the vibrant history and widespread contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our nation. As laborers who helped build the first transcontinental railroad and contribute to the farm worker movement, and military service members who have fought valiantly in battles dating back to the American Civil War, the rich cultural heritage of the AAPI community is inextricably woven into the fabric of our nation. From our indigenous Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities to our more recent refugee and immigrant populations, AAPIs have also planted deep roots in their local communities as small business owners, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, artists, lawyers, scientists, and public servants.
“As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us honor the tireless work of generations of AAPIs who came before us and recommit ourselves to advancing the work that still lies ahead. Together, we have the power to speak out against dangerous policies targeting immigrant, refugee, and minority populations and to build a brighter future for generations to come.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL):
"Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to reflect on and take pride in the numerous contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout our nation’s history and of the continued contributions of our children and our children’s children. As we celebrate our community this May, we should also look ahead and continue to work for progress for our community and ensure the American Dream remains within reach for all.”
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), House Democratic Leader:
“Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity for all Americans to recognize the immense contributions that this beautiful and diverse population has made to our nation. For generations, Asian Pacific American communities have come to our shores to pursue the American Dream, bringing their rich cultures and wonderful traditions. Many of these courageous Americans overcame persecution, injustice and bigotry to strengthen our country and, in the process, exemplified what it means to be an American.
“This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us celebrate the AAPI community’s undaunted spirit and the role they have played in our history and the contributions they are making to our future. We can honor these proud Americans by reaffirming our legacy as a nation of immigrants and fulfilling our most basic promise that out of many, we are one.”
Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus:
“During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we pay tribute to the rich histories, cultures and contributions the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have made to our country. From science to the arts, our AAPI brothers and sisters have enriched and shaped every aspect of American society. I am proud to join CAPAC and my fellow Americans in this celebration, and to reaffirm my commitment to elevate and promote opportunity for the AAPI community in Congress.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02):
“The AAPI community has made exceptional contributions to our country throughout history. Hawai‘i’s own leaders like Senator Daniel Inouye, Senator Daniel Akaka, Congresswoman Patsy Mink, the Nisei-only 442nd Infantry Regiment, and our Filipino WWII Veterans have shaped our collective history by breaking down barriers and working with unwavering conviction to better the lives of all Americans. Our AAPI community today continues to lead across every sector—from government, business, and military service, to culture, arts, technology, healthcare, and so much more.”
Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17):
“The many contributions that Asians and Pacific Islanders have made to the community in Silicon Valley and to our country are a testimony to the benefits of embracing diversity. We must ensure that America remains a nation where people from all backgrounds are free to pursue their potential and the American dream.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus