Skip to content

Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), a month-long celebration to honor the contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to American culture and society. AAPI is an umbrella term that includes cultures from the entire Asian continent including East, Southeast and South Asia, and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

The celebration was first introduced in 1977 by New York Representative Frank Horton as House Joint Resolution 540 to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Week, however the resolution did not pass. Rep. Horton introduced a resolution the next year, House Joint Resolution 1007, proposing the sitting President to proclaim a heritage week using the seventh and tenth of the month. This joint resolution was passed and signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978. In 1990, Congress passed Public Law 101-283 which expanded the observance to a full month. In 1992, May was designated as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, with special focus on the 7th and 10th of the month as those dates mark anniversaries of significance. May 7, 1843 was the date the first Japanese immigrants came to the United States, and May 10, 1869 marked the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, a project worked on largely by Chinese immigrants. 

In May 2022, Connecticut passed a state law and became the first state to mandate teaching of Asian American and Pacific Islander history into the public-school curriculum for students in grades K-8.

According to Reader’s Digest, great resources to celebrate and educate are PBS’s five-part documentary Asian Americans, support Asian American business, and donate to nonprofit organizations such as Stop AAPI Hate and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.