May is Asian Pacific AmericanHeritage Month – So much to celebrate, so little time

Late in the month as this post may be, the celebration of Asian Pacific Americans Heritage Month cannot be limited to one short month. There is too much to celebrate to cram it all into 31 days…..

Asian Pacific Americans Heritage Month has its roots nearly four decades ago when Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. The following month Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Passed by both houses of Congress the joint resolution designating the annual celebration was signed on October 5, 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. The commemoration was expanded in May 1990 when President George H.W. Bush designated the entire month of May as Asian Pacific Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen to recognize the immigration of the first Japanese to the U.S. in 1843.   Masses of Chinese immigrants soon followed, in large part to work on the Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed in May 10, 1869 with the famous golden spike at Utah’s Promontory Summit.

Today the month is a time set aside to celebrate all of the Asian Pacific Americans who are now part of mainstream America – people from a host of countries including New Guinea, Fiji, the Marianas, Guam, New Zealand, the Hawaiian Island and many others.

There are countless resources to assist independent learners, teachers and groups that want to expand their understanding of the role of Asian Pacific Americans – not just this month but throughout the year.   Among these are the following: – The Library of Congress, in collaboration with the Smithsonian, National Archives and other federal entities, offers a robust library of audio and video as well as print materials and information about related events. The Center for Educational Telecommunications provides an extensive listing of materials in all formats; many of the listed items are in fact links to additional resources.

Closer to home, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights links to several resources including these:

  • Becoming Minnesotan, Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees, Minnesota Historical Society Museum.
  • Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans
The Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans (CAPM) is a state agency created by the Minnesota state legislature to: advise the governor and members of the legislature on issues pertaining to Asian Pacific Minnesotans; advocate on issues of importance to the Asian Pacific community, and; act as a broker between the Asian Pacific community and mainstream society.
  • Asian American Press 
Asian American Press is the first Asian American publication in Minnesota. Founded in 1982 as Asian Business & Community News, and renamed to the Asian American Press in 1990. This publication covers local, national and international news and information related to Asian American culture.

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I met a woman who told me that she wasn’t attracted to Asians. “No worries,” I said. “I’m not attracted to racists” ― Simon Tam







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