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. 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.
In 1990, 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.
Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) was founded to help address domestic violence and sexual assault in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Their mission is to build healthy and safe communities by addressing the root causes and consequences of family violence and violence against women. CPAF is committed to meeting the specific cultural and language needs of Asian and Pacific Islander women and their families. Their vision is of an Asian and Pacific Islander community that embraces healthy relationships and works in partnership with other communities to eradicate all forms of violence. Learn more.
Sue Ann Hong joined the Center for Asian Pacific American Women (CAPAW) May 2018 as the interim Executive Director. She worked at State Farm Insurance Companies for over 28 years in Data Processing, Diversity & Inclusion, Corporate and Auto Claims, where she led up to 600 leaders and employees in supporting customers in 23 states. Her passion for building trusting relationships infuses Sue Ann’s philosophy. A 2002 Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute (APAWLI) National Fellow, she continues her journey as a whole person leader in her belief it’s the journey versus the destination. Her goal is to support CAPAW’s vision to build whole person leaders, one at a time. Learn more.
Rooted in the dreams of immigrants and inspired by the promise of opportunity, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) advocates for an America in which all Americans can benefit equally from, and contribute to, the American dream. Our mission is to advance the civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. Learn more.
Growing up Asian-American certainly, I believe, has helped inform a certain kind of perspective. Specifically, I feel like it’s a strength in being able to see the world and stories at a certain distance that allows one to see stories, narratives, people, trend, whatever, as an outsider. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I think that never belonging to the so-called norm allows one to become an astute observer.
It’s a huge cliché at this point, but seeing it lets people be it. Stereotypes are terrible things, of course, and Hollywood has been rife with them. But, also, as Millennials and Gen Z emerge into adulthood, the numbers are too staggering to ignore. People of color in those demos, particularly in big cities and populous states, often comprise more than half of the population. To limit storytelling to a non-diverse perspective is just not serving the audience. It’s that simple. Ultimately, like so many things, business pressures will force diversity into storytelling and news media as the audience will need to be served.
Anything that acknowledges the diversity of the country is important – clearly!