The History of AAPI Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time to celebrate and honor the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to American culture and history. But how did this observance come to be? In this post, we’ll take a look at the history of AAPI Heritage Month.

The first Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Week was created by New York Representative Frank Horton and Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, who teamed up together to request that a week in May be celebrated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, including May 7th and 10th.


The dates were chosen to commemorate two important events in AAPI history: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, largely built by Chinese immigrants, on May 10, 1869.


The first Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Week was celebrated with events and activities across the country, including festivals, parades, and cultural exhibitions. The observance was well-received, and in 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill that expanded the week-long observance to a month-long one.


Since then, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month has been celebrated annually in May, with a focus on celebrating the history, culture, and contributions of AAPI communities in the United States. The observance has become an important time for AAPI communities to come together and share their stories, traditions, and experiences with others.


Over the years, the observance has also become a time to reflect on the challenges faced by AAPI communities. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II to the recent rise in anti-Asian violence and hate crimes, AAPI communities have faced discrimination, racism, and violence throughout American history.


Despite these challenges, AAPI communities have persevered and made significant contributions to American culture, history, and society. From building the transcontinental railroad to fighting for civil rights to creating innovative technologies, AAPI individuals have played a vital role in shaping the United States.


As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May, let us take the time to honor and appreciate the contributions of AAPI communities, and let us renew our commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all.