Brought to you by WHA’s Multicultural Employees and Allies Resource Group.

The History of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

The effort to officially recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) contributions to the United States began in the late 1970s. First designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, May was chosen to encompass two significant events in U.S. history. One, the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant, a 14-year-old boy named Manjiro, on May 7, 1843. Also, the May 10, 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad through the labor of approximately 20,000 Chinese immigrants. In 1992, Congress extended the formal recognition to the entire month of May.

Why We Celebrate

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed significantly to many facets of American culture and society, including science and medicine, literature and art, sports and recreation, government and politics, and activism and law. AAPI Month is a time to recognize the significant contributions and accomplishments of AAPI individuals and communities in the United States, celebrate the wide diversity of Asian culture and continue to work against the persistent discrimination and violence they have faced throughout our history by learning and lifting up their stories.

Ideas for Experiencing AAPI Culture Locally

Resources for Learning More