May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month! Celebrated annually, the designated time honors the broad range of nationalities that have immigrated to the United States from the continent of Asia — including East, Southeast, and South Asia — and the Pacific Island of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Honoring one of the largest and fastest-growing populations in the United States, AAPI Heritage Month is a time for uplifting the stories, traditions, and contributions of the AAPI people, and recognizing the tremendous impact the group has had on the history of the United States.
The story of AAPI Heritage Month dates back to 1977, when New York Representative Frank Horton introduced a joint resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Week, according to History.com. That same year, Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a similar resolution, however, neither passed. The following year, Horton reintroduced a joint resolution that requested that the president proclaim the first 10 days of May as AAPI Heritage Week, which was later passed by both the House and the Senate. And in October of 1979, President Jimmy Carter formally signed the resolution into law, marking May 1-10, 1980, as the first federally recognized celebration of Asian American/Pacific Islander heritage. For the following 10 years, each president signed a formal proclamation recognizing the first 10 days of May as AAPI Heritage Week, and in 1990, Congress expanded the recognition into a month-long celebration which was written into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
May was chosen as the month to honor AAPI because it marks a significant time in the population’s history as the anniversary of when Japanese immigrants first arrived in the United States on May 7, 1843. The month also coincides with the anniversary of Golden Spike Day — which commemorates the completion of the transcontinental railroad — a piece of critical United States infrastructure that was built primarily by Chinese workers.
The year’s theme — which was chosen by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council — is “Advancing Leadership Through Collaboration.” The FAPAC selected this theme, stating that “collaboration involves two or more individuals, groups or organizations actively working together to accomplish a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration at its core, requires leadership. Collaboration improves team dynamics, enhances problem solving leading to increased innovation, process efficiency, improved communication, and ultimately overall success.”
To help your family celebrate AAPI Heritage Month — and to amplify the rich history of the AAPI people — we’ve put together a resource bank, including educational information for kids and families, as well as local and virtual events happening all month long in honor of AAPI Heritage Month. Check it out below:
Educational Resources for Kids and Families
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – Official Website
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month | History.com
- Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Your Classroom | Waterford
- 70 Children’s Books for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (AAPI) | Imagination Group
- 29 Children’s Books about Asian American History and Culture | Rebekah Gienapp
- AAPI Heritage Month for kids: 9 fun activities for learning and celebrating | Care.com
- How to Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Kids | Parents.com
- 5 Ways to Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month | KidWorldCitizen
- Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month | PBS Kids
Local and Virtual Events
- Chinese American Museum: Kids Storytime Feat. Asian American Children’s Authors | May 4, 2022, at 4–4:30 p.m. PST (Virtual)
- Chinese American Museum: LA’s Chinatown Murals: Connecting Past and Present | May 7, 2022, at 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (In-person)
- Chinese American Museum: An Untold Past: Chinese Americans in Los Angeles | May 17, 2022, at 6:30–8 p.m. (In-person)
- Chinese American Museum: Join Miss Rita for a reading of “Playing at the Border: A Story of Yo-Yo Ma” | May 24, 2022, at 4–4:30 p.m. PST (Virtual)
- Chinese American Museum: Collective Resilience Zine Fest: CAM will host a zine festival to commemorate the closing of AAPIHM celebrations | June 4, 2022, at 11 a.m.–4 p.m. (In-person)
- USC Pacfic Asian Museum: Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at PAM, Japanese Flower Arranging Workshop | May 8, 2022, 12 p.m.–4 p.m. (In-person)
- USC Pacific Asian Museum: Various In-Person Exhibits | Ongoing (In-Person)