This May, First 5 LA is proud to observe Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! Over the course of May, First 5 LA will join along in celebrating the contributions made to U.S. history by the broad range of Asian nationalities that make up AAPI – including populations from East, Southeast, and South Asia and the Pacific Island of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia – by uplifting the ways in which AAPI immigrants have, and continue to, advance progress in the U.S. and enrich the culture and history of the nation.
Dating back to 1977, AAPI Heritage Month began when New York Representative Frank Horton introduced a joint resolution to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Week, according to History.com. While the resolution did not pass, Horton’s efforts later became successful on the federal level when in 1979, a House joint resolution introduced by Horton requested that the president proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Week. That year, President Jimmy Carter became the first president to formally acknowledge Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Week, with each president from 1980 to 1990 subsequently passing formal declarations recognizing the week. In 1990, Congress expanded the recognition into a month-long celebration, which was written into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
The month of May was chosen as AAPI Heritage Month because it aligns with a historical time in AAPI history, including the anniversary of when Japanese immigrants first arrived in the U.S. on May 7, 1843. Additionally, Golden Spike Day, celebrated annually on May 10, commemorates the day the transcontinental railroad, a critical piece of U.S. infrastructure that was built primarily by Chinese workers, was completed.
This year’s theme – chosen by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) – is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.” According to FAPAC, the theme was chosen in recognition that intentional efforts to build leaders – particularly within immigrant populations – helps advance innovation, close disparities, and drive progress.
To join along in the AAPI Heritage Month celebrations, check out the resource bank below that includes educational information for kids and families, as well as local and virtual events happening all month long!
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – Official Website
- Imagination Soup: 70 Children’s Books for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (AAPI)
- Care.com: AAPI Heritage Month for kids: 12 fun AANHPI Heritage Month activities for kids
- Common Sense: Free Learning Resources to Celebrate Asian American Heritage
- (March 25, 2023 – June 25, 2023) : GLOBAL ASIAS: CONTEMPORARY ASIAN AND ASIAN AMERICAN ART
- Chinese American Museum: Origins: The Birth and Rise of Chinese American Communities in Los Angeles
- Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (May 4-13, 2023)
- City of Pasadena Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month – Pasadena Public Library, Pasadena Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, and The Friends of the Pasadena Public Library are offering a month-long series of in-person and virtual activities and events to celebrate AAPI heritage, history and achievements. All programs and events are free.
- Santa Monica City: Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month – Learning our History & Celebrating our Accomplishments – Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month by joining one or more of the AAPI activities curated by the Coalition of Asians & Pacific Employees of Santa Monica (CAPE SM).
- Los Angeles Public Library: The Big Read – American Born Chinese: Book Discussion and Comic Book Workshop (May 4, 2023)
- Los Angeles Public Library: Chinese Calligraphy – In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, performer Emmy Lam will teach participants how to write 24 Chinese characters. Traditional writing materials will be provided. Participants will take home their prized calligraphy work! (May 4, 2023)