We are celebrating Asian and Pacific American Heritage this month. Congress proclaimed a week of May in 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, and in 1992, it designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants coming to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the Golden Spike Day of May 10, 1869 when Chinese workers contributed tremendously to complete the first transcontinental railroad in the United States.
Over one hundred years have passed since Angel Island, a counterpoint to Ellis Island, was built on the West Coast. It was used as an immigration detention center during the Asian exclusion era. Today, the estimated number of AAPI population in the U.S. is 24.2 million, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimate, Asian Americans are one of the fastest-growing racial or ethnic groups in the U.S. Over the years, AAPIs have contributed to shaping the identity of the nation. They have confronted persistent exclusion and inequity in domestic policies and social practices, and yet contributed to the nation’s economy, science and technology, and culture and arts. They fought not only against discrimination and violence in the nation, but also in many wars to protect the nation. Yet, their challenges and struggles, and contributions to and legacies in U.S. history and culture have not been well-recognized or educated. It was only last month when the very first bill mandating a curriculum of Asian American History in public schools passed.
Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation started to observe the rise of hate and violence against Asian Americans. In late April, the Senate passed legislation aimed at fighting hate crimes against AAPI with bipartisan support. The legislative and federal actions, anti-hate public awareness campaigns, and month-long events and contents to celebrate AAPI heritage are in place. So, in the journey to diversity, inclusion, and equity in this nation, how far are we from Angel Island?
Check out the FSU Libraries’ Digital Book Display to celebrate the APAHM, and select online resources on AAPI and their heritage:
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month site from the U.S. government
A collaborative project by the Library of Congress and six other museums and government agencies. Exhibits and collections along with educational resources.
Asian Americans Then and Now: Linking Past to Present from the Asia Society
An essay that shows an overview of Asian Americans in American history, including the Congressional Exclusionary Act to Japanese American Internment during WWII.
Asian American and Pacific Islander History
Stories and other audio/video resources on AAPI
Understanding America: Asian American History, Contributions, and Current Challenges
FPC Briefing by Dr. Madeline Hsu for the U.S. Department of State
May 7, 2021
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: 31 Ways to Celebrate in May and Beyond
From the Asia Society.
PBS Asian Americans series
A five-hour film series to learn the fresh perspectives on Asian American history.
Asian films and movies