May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – a time to recognize the contributions of our Asian and Pacific Islander community in the United States.
A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).
The celebration was set in May because of two important anniversaries. On May 7, 1843 the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States, and on May 10, 1869 - the pounding of the Golden Spike marked the completion of the transcontinental railroad and the difficult work of many Chinese immigrant laborers.
Similar to Black History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month started as a week-long commemoration, but was expanded to a full month. The week was first recognized by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the celebration was expanded to a month by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.
This year, the U.S. Census has published data from the 2010 census on Asians, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders. They found that California had the largest Asian population increase between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009.
The Library of Congress, the National Archives and others maintain a helpful web-portal for the public to learn about the Asian-Pacific Islander community and heritage month celebrations. The website contains helpful information and lesson plans for teachers.
Events around the state
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Monday, May 02, 2011