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Why do we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

In short, it's a big celebration of everything the AAPI community has done for our country.
Calendar reminder that May is AAPI Heritage Month
Posted at 8:31 PM, May 01, 2024

May is finally here, ushering in a vibrant array of monthlong national observances, including Mental Health Awareness Month, Women’s Health Month, and notably, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

But as we think about all these observances, one question stands out: Why do we celebrate AAPI in May?

For nearly 50 years, the United States has celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage. President Jimmy Carter signed a resolution by Reps. Frank Horton and Norman Mineta in October 1978, designating May 4–10 as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. Then in 1992, Congress passed a law extending it to a whole month.

The month of May holds a special significance for the community because it marks two key events: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad by mainly Chinese immigrant workers on May 10, 1869.

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Every year, the Asian Pacific American Council unveils a theme, and this year, it's "Advancing Leaders Through Innovation." This theme celebrates the visionaries and trailblazers who have influenced the history of the AAPI community.

So, who exactly celebrates this month? Well, nowadays, anyone can join in the festivities. But it's really about honoring a specific group of people:

You might have heard it called Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, or AAPI Heritage Month for short. But now, President Joe Biden's administration prefers to call it Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AA and NHPI Heritage Month). That covers everyone with roots in Asian countries, the Pacific Islands, and Native Hawaiian communities.

In short, it's a big celebration that includes a lot of different backgrounds!