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.
Asian 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 Ng Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
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.
King of the Waves
To find out more about Duke Kahanamoku, go here.
A True Lifesaver
Read Dr. Feng Shan’s biography, go here.
A Political Pioneer
To find our more about Dalip Singh Saund, go here
A Monumental Architect
To learn more about Maya Lin, go here
A Writing Pro
To learn more about Amy Tan, go here
Emerging Asian-Pacific American LGBTQ Leaders
Strategist, 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 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. 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
(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.
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
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