Asian American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 2022

Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have a rich heritage thousands of years old and have both shaped the history of the United States and had their lives dramatically influenced by moments in its history. Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month) is an annual celebration that recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States.

The AAPI umbrella term includes cultures from the entire Asian continent—including East, Southeast and South Asia—and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. As of 2019, there were about 22.9 million people of Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander descent in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, AAPI people are a diverse and growing population that make up about 7 percent of the total U.S. population. AAPI Heritage Month 2022 will take place from Sunday, May 1 to Tuesday, May 31. Here at Victra, our People of Color United [POCU] ERG is excited to celebrate and bring awareness to the AAPI heritage and culture and invite you to join us!

History

The effort to officially recognize Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander contributions to the United States began in the late 1970s, and took over 10 years to make it a permanent month-long celebration. The month of May was chosen for AAPI Heritage Month because it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843. May is also a significant month because it recognizes Golden Spike Day, May 10, 1869, which marks the completion of the transcontinental railroad that was built with significant contributions from Chinese workers.

In 1977, New York representative Frank Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 540, which proposed proclaiming the first 10 days of May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a similar joint resolution the same year. When the resolutions did not pass, representative Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 1007 the following year, which requested the president to proclaim a week during the first 10 days of May starting in 1979, including May 7 and 10, as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.

After the House and the Senate passed the Resolution, President Jimmy Carter signed it into Public Law 95-419 on October 5, 1978. From 1980 to 1990, each president passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. In 1990, Congress expanded the observance from a week to a month. May was annually designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992 under the George H. W. Bush administration with the passing of Public Law 102-540. Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month was renamed as AAPI Heritage Month in 2009.

Click here to read the 2022 Proclamation on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, And Pacific Islander Heritage Month by President Biden

Why Do We Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month?

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed significantly to many facets of American culture and society, including science and medicine, literature and art, sports and recreation, government and politics, and activism and law. In 2021, Kamala Harris became the first Asian American Vice President of the United States. In film history, AAPI people, stories, and traditions have become more visible with South Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2019 and the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in 2021, debuting Marvel’s first Asian superhero.

Today, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing racial group in the United States. AAPI Heritage Month celebrates the unique journey of all AAPI immigrants and citizens in the United States and their unique life experiences, traditions and cultures.

AAPI Month 2022 Theme

According to the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), the theme for AANHPI Heritage Month 2022 is “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.” The FAPAC encourages local and national governments to prioritize collaboration, development, diversity, transparency, and inclusion through leadership training of AANHPI people.

AANHPI Culture, Customs and Traditions