Girls performing Hmong traditional dances at a 2019 Asian Festival in Columbus, Ohio.
During Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, we spend time thinking about the people who share that heritage and represent a broad range of backgrounds and who make our country what it is today. Even the month’s official website acknowledges how broad this group is, as it encapsulates people from all 48 countries of the Asian continent and the 25 island nations that make up Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Like any heritage month—Black history, LGBTQ+ Pride, Latin-American Heritage, etc, May’s celebration of Asian and Pacific Islanders does not represent a monolith of people, but encompasses people of an immense range of backgrounds, identities, and stories.
Asian Pacific American Heritage month originated in Congress by Frank Horton (R-NY) and in the Senate by Daniel Inouye (D-HI) in 1977 as just a week, but the commemoration was broadened to a month in 1990. The month of May was chosen in commemoration of the first Japanese people to immigrate to the US, recorded as May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May 1869—an important milestone made possible by mostly Chinese immigrant workers who laid those tracks.
Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have a long history in the United States, certainly dating back before 1843, and have faced systemic racism by the government, such as the colonization and US annexation of Hawaii in 1898 and Japanese American incarceration from 1942-1945. While fighting stereotypes of “perpetual foreigner” and “model minority,” this broad group, which is estimated to make up 22.9 million Americans and rising, have faced growing hate-related attacks, according to the FBI. Green America believes that a truly green society is one where all people are healthy and safe, so we aim to fight dangerous stereotypes and lift voices of our Asian and Pacific Islander allies during this month.
This month brings Americans together to remember, honor, and be inspired by Asian and Pacific Islander history and culture as well as the countless individuals of those backgrounds who have made tremendous contributions to our country.
To help enhance your celebration with content you can use all year long, Green America is pleased to share Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month resources that highlight accomplishments and the racial justice still needed in society, the economy, and the environment. We do this as a reflection of our vision: “to work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the abundance of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.”
Together, let’s celebrate and recommit ourselves to building a just society.
We will be updating this list in May with new articles from Green America and new events as we learn of them!
Holiday Background & Social Justice:
Virtual Asian American/Pacific Islander History Month Events:
See virtual events here: https://www.asianpacificheritage.gov/
The State of Race: AAPI Heritage Month – The Invisible Becoming Visible (In-person and Virtual)
Search “AAPI month events [your town]” to find local celebrations near you!