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Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month 2014

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I Am Beyond!

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a month to celebrate and pay tribute to the contributions generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders have made to American history, society and culture.

presidentsigningAsian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month originated in 1978 when Congress passed Pub. L. 95-419 (PDF, 63KB). This law directed the President to issue a proclamation designating the week beginning on May 4, 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. On March 28, 1979, President Carter (photo credit: Associated Press), issued Presidential Proclamation 4650. In this proclamation, President Carter spoke of the significant role Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played in the creation of a dynamic and pluralistic American society with their contributions to the sciences, arts, industry, government and commerce.

Over the next ten years, Presidents Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush continued to annually issue proclamations designating a week in May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.

In 1990, Congress passed Pub. L. 101-283 (PDF, 91KB) which amended Pub. L. 95-419.  Pub. L. 101-283 requested the President to issue a proclamation which expanded the observance of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week to a month in May 1990.  This law called on the people of the United States to observe Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month with “appropriate ceremonies, programs and activities.”  President George H.W. Bush issued Presidential Proclamation 6130 on May 7, 1990 designating May 1990 as the first “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”

The following year, Pub. L. 102-42 (PDF, 125KB) was passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President George H.W. Bush on May 14, 1991.  This law requested that the President proclaim May 1991 and May 1992 as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Months.”  This law also recognized the significance of May 7th and May 10th in the history of Asian/Pacific Americans.  May 7, 1843 is the date on which the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States while on May 10, 1869 the first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed with significant contributions from Chinese pioneers.  In 1992, Congress passed Pub. L. 102-450 (PDF, 204KB) which permanently designated May of each year as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”

Pursuant to Pub. L. 102-450 Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama have annually issued proclamations designating May as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Heritage Month” and on May 1, 2009 President Obama issued Presidential Proclamation 8369 (PDF) which recalls the challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and celebrates their great and significant contributions to our society.

Konrad NgKonrad Ng Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
(Photo credit: http://newsdesk.si.edu)

Since 1977, the month of May recognizes the achievements and contributions of Asian  Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians to the American story. The legislation honoring the significance of our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage was introduced by some of the finest Asian Americans in U.S. history: Congressman Norman Mineta, Senator Spark Matsunaga, and Senator Daniel Inouye.

This May, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center theme for AAPI Heritage Month is “I Am Beyond.” The phrase captures the aspirations of the American spirit, how Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have always sought to excel beyond the challenges that have limited equal opportunity in America. “I Am Beyond” recognizes Dalip Singh Saund’s election as the first Asian American Congressman in 1957 after campaigning for the rights of all Asian immigrants to become naturalized U.S. citizens. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the civil rights work of Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz in championing for the rights of American workers across communities. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the achievements of Patsy Mink, the first woman of color and first Asian American woman elected to Congress, a woman whose legacy includes the promotion of equal opportunity in education. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the legacy of Chinese American Grace Lee Boggs, a major figure in the civil rights movement who continues to work on empowering communities in Detroit, MI at nearly 100 years old. “I Am Beyond” recognizes the passionate service of Daniel K. Inouye, decorated World War II veteran and long-time Senator, whom President Barack Obama has called “a true American hero” and “my earliest political inspiration.” “I Am Beyond” is the theme of the new Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center exhibition Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, a look at the history, art and culture of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in the U.S. beyond stereotypes.

 

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center invites agencies, cities, communities, individuals, organizations, and states across the country to join the commemoration of AAPI Heritage Month. Please join us in recognizing the rich and complex past, present, and future of AAPI communities, our organizations, our leaders and innovators, our artists and musicians, our organizers and activists, our teachers and students, our youth and elders—AAPIs from all walks of life. Create and share your interpretation of the theme through art, music, performance and literature or through an event, video, film or documentary. More details coming soon:www.apa.si.edu. For those on social media, please use the #IAMBEYOND hashtag. 

One made a splash riding waves in Hawaii. Another made his mark walking the halls of Congress. Still another made history designing an American landmark.

Duke KahanamokuKing of the Waves
Duke Kahanamoku (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) came to be known as the father of international surfing, but the Hawaiian native made his first splash as a swimmer at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. Born in Honolulu in 1890, Kahanamoku struck gold by setting a world record in the 100-meter free-style and earned a silver medal in the 200-meter relay. He won two more golds at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, a silver at the 1924 Paris Olympics, and a bronze at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Kahanamoku’s swimming and surfing talents caught the attention of Hollywood, and over the course of nine years, he appeared in nearly 30 movies. Kahanamoku went on to serve as sheriff for the City and County of Honolulu for 26 years. When the legendary swimmer and surfer died at the age of 77, he was remembered for his athletic talent and sportsmanship.

To find out more about Duke Kahanamoku, go here.

Dr. Feng Shan HoA True Lifesaver
Dr. Feng Shan Ho (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) single-handedly saved thousands of Austrian Jews during the Holocaust. When Dr. Ho arrived in Vienna in 1937 as a Chinese diplomat, Austria had the third largest Jewish community in Europe. Just one year later, however, the Nazis took over Austria and began persecuting Jews. Although they tried to flee, Austrian Jews had nowhere to go because most of the world’s nations would not accept Jewish refugees. Against all odds, many would survive thanks to Dr. Ho. As Chinese General Consul in Vienna, he went against his boss’ orders and began issuing Jews visas to Shanghai, China. These lifesaving documents allowed thousands of Jews to leave Austria and escape death. After 40 years of diplomatic service that included ambassadorships to Egypt, Mexico, Bolivia, and Colombia, Dr. Ho retired to San Francisco, California. At age 89, he published his memoirs, “Forty Years of My Diplomatic Life.” Dr. Ho died in 1997, an unknown hero of World War II.

Read Dr. Feng Shan’s biography, go here.

Dalip Singh SaundA Political Pioneer
Dalip Singh Saund (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) made history in 1956 when he became the first Asian elected to Congress. Born in India in 1899, Saund came to the United States in 1920 to study at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a doctorate degree in mathematics. Despite being highly educated, Saund discovered that his career options were limited due to anti-immigrant feelings in the U.S. As a result, he worked in farming for the next 20 years. At the same time, Saund began fighting discriminatory laws against Indians. In 1949, he and other Indians finally earned the right to become U.S. citizens. In 1956, Saund left the fields of California for the halls of Congress. He served three terms in the House of Representatives, working to improve U.S.-Asian relations. Saund’s political career was cut short when he suffered a stroke while campaigning for a fourth term. Still, he opened the door for Asian Americans to enter U.S. politics.

To find our more about Dalip Singh Saund, go here

Maya LinA Monumental Architect
Maya Lin (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) rose to fame in 1981. Just 21-years-old and still an architectural student at Yale University, Lin won a contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Her design beat out more than 1,400 entries. The Memorial’s 594-foot granite wall features the names of the more than 58,000 U.S. soldiers who died during the Vietnam War. Each year, four million people visit the wall to pay their respects to these war heroes. Less than a decade later, Lin designed another famous structure—the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. The monument outlines the major events of the Civil Rights Movement. Today, Lin’s designs can be found in several American cities and continue to inspire the entire nation.

To learn more about Maya Lin, go here

Amy TanA Writing Pro
Amy Tan (photo credit http://teacher.scholastic.com) was born in 1952 in Oakland, California, the daughter of Chinese parents who had immigrated to the United States three years earlier. As a teenager, Tan and her family moved to Europe, where she attended high school in Switzerland. Tan later returned to the U.S. to attend college. She gained international attention in 1989 with the publication of her first novel, The Joy Luck Club, a story about Chinese women and their Chinese-American daughters. The book has been translated into 25 languages and has been made into a movie. In addition to her best-selling novels, Tan has also written two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa. Besides writing, Tan plays in a rock ‘n roll band called The Rock Bottom Remainders with several other famous writers, including Stephen King and Scott Turow.

To learn more about Amy Tan, go here

Emerging Asian-Pacific American LGBTQ Leaders

Gregory CendanaStrategist, politico and coalition builder Gregory Cendana (Photo Courtesy of APALA) is the first openly gay and youngest-ever Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement. He also serves as the Chair of National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, as Treasurer for the Labor Coalition for Community Action and is the youngest General Board member of the AFL-CIO. Gregory has been named one of Washington DC’s most influential 40-and-under young leaders, one of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 & the “Future of DC Politics”. Previously, he served as President of the United States Student Association (USSA), where he played an integral role in the passage of the Student Aid & Fiscal Responsibility Act and Healthcare & Education Reconciliation Act. In his spare time, Gregory enjoys singing karaoke, choreographing dances and trying to cook. Be a part of his journey by following him on twitter at @GregoryCendana.

To learn more about Gregory Cendana go here

Tom HayashiTom Hayashi (Photo Courtesy of OCA) currently serves as the Executive Director of OCA National Center in Washington, DC. Founded as “Organization of Chinese Americans” in 1973, OCA today is a premiere pan-Asian membership driven civil rights organization with a national network of over 80 chapters and affiliates. (He is the first openly gay OCA Executive Director of multi-cultural ethnicity.) Before joining OCA, Tom lead an organizational development firm by the name of Capacity Empowerment as its Principal providing services and counsel to over 80 nonprofit, government, and private sectors. He brings over 19 years of combined professional experience as a former health care provider/administrator, fundraising executive, educator, and community activist.

To learn more about Tom Hayashi, go here

Miriam W. YeungMiriam W. Yeung (Photo Courtesy of NAPAWF), Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) guides the country’s only national, multi-issue, progressive organization dedicated to social justice and human rights for Asian and Pacific Islander women and girls in the US. With offices in NYC and DC, and chapters in 12 cities, NAPAWF’s current priorities include winning rights for immigrant women, advocating for nail salon workers rights and safety, leading community-based participatory research with young API women, conducting national API opinion polling and winning reproductive justice.

To learn more about Miriam W, Yeung, go here

APHMonth Banner(photo credit: http://www.factmonster.com/)

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.

http://asianpacificheritage.gov/index.html

 

For Kids

I Am Asian American

On a Monday morning in September, ESL teacher Susan Azzu found she had a new student. Poh was entering the third grade. He was born in Thailand after his mother and sister escaped war and ethnic persecution in Myanmar. Through a refugee program, Poh had just arrived in Chapel Hill, N.C. He spoke no English. Read more http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-44-summer-2013/feature/i-am-asian-american?elq=7be0bfc520de4a8a8127921433a942a2&elqCampaignId=150

 

Explore Asian Immigration

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/asian-american/visit.htm

Immigration Stories: Yesterday and Today

http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration/index.htm

Discover the plights and accomplishments of one of the largest immigrant groups in the United States.

  • In Angel Island (grades 4–8), one woman relives her childhood journey of immigration from her small village in China to Oakland, CA, in 1933.
  • In Japanese Americans: The War at Home (grades 4–8), students meet Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton, who shares his boyhood experience as a victim of forced relocation during WWII.
  • Students read 10 biographies of Notable Asian Americans (grades 3–6) and can continue their research by clicking on related links.
  • By clicking on a map of Asia, students learn Asian American Statistics (grades 3–7), a great way to introduce math and to show students there are distinctions between “Asian American” and “Indian American” or “Korean American.”
  • Research Starter: Confucianism (grades 5–8), featuring related vocabulary, articles, and recommended research topics, introduces students to a major Asian religion.
  • Young students can study Asian culture by learning about zodiac signs, sun kites, and calligraphy with these Printable Activities (grades K–2).
Asian-American Scientists

(Feature) Nobel Prize winners, chemists, researchers

Asian-American Athletes

(Feature) Asian American athletes and sports anchors

Asian Americans in Business and Media

(Feature) Entrepreneurs, executives, journalists

Asian Americans in Government

(Feature) Governors, Senators, Representatives, Cabinet Members

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Origins

(Feature) Origins of APA Heritage Month A national celebration established in 1977 by Ricco Villanueva …

Asian American Writers

(Feature) Asian American poets, playwrights, critics, and novelists

Asian American Artists and Musicians

(Feature) Asian American musicians, dancers, painters, sculptors, designers

Asian Americans in Television and Movies

(Feature) Asian American actors, directors, screenwriters

Notable Asian Americans, A-Z

(Feature) Alphabetized links to biographies of notable Asian American

Asian American History Timeline

 

A list of Asian and Pacific Island Countries.

Asia

Bangladesh
Bhutan
Brunei Darussalam
Cambodia
China Mainland
China, Taiwan Province of
China, Hong Kong SAR
India
Indonesia
Japan
Korea, Dem. People’s Rep. of
Korea, Rep. of
Laos
Malaysia
Maldives
Mongolia
Myanmar
Nepal
Pakistan
Philippines
Singapore
Sri Lanka
Thailand
Vietnam

Oceania

American Samoa
Australia
Christmas Island
Coco (Keeling) Islands
Cook Islands
Fiji Islands
French Polynesia
Guam
Kiribati
Micronesia, Fed. States of
Northern Mariana Island
Nauru
New Caledonia
New Zealand
Niue
Norfolk Island
Palau
Papua New Guinea
Samoa
Solomon Islands
Tonga
Tuvalu
Vanuatu
Wallis and Futuna Islands

 

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