According to National Today, there are 138 holidays in the month of May. There’s Star Wars Day (May 4th), Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, and more. These special days celebrate cultural, religious, historical, and even some culinary moments. This doesn’t even account for the international holidays or personal moments like birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations that are occurring in the month of May!
As we look at all the opportunities to commemorate key moments this month, we at ACCP are honoring the rich contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. While there is much to celebrate, it is important to first understand and acknowledge the history of hate against the AAPI communities in the United States.
- 1875 – The Page Act prohibited the importation of unfree laborers and women brought for “immoral purposes” but was enforced primarily against Chinese.
- 1882 – The Chinese Exclusion Act banned Chinese citizens from entering the US for 10 years.
- 1892 – The Geary Act reinforced and extended the Chinese Exclusions Act’s ban on Chinese immigration for an additional ten years.
- 1902 – Chinese immigration was made permanently illegal until it was repealed by the Magnuson Act in 1943 with an immigration quota for China of around 105 visas per year.
- 1913 – The Alien Land Law prohibited Asian immigrants from owning land.
- 1917 – The Immigration Act of 1917 was implemented with the intention to prohibit entry of migrants from India.
- 1924 – The Immigration Act prevented immigration from Asia and established quotas for immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere. Provisions to the quotas were revised in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 but weren’t fully removed until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished the National Origins Formula.
- 1930 – Mobs in CA attacked Filipino farmworkers for dancing with white women.
- 1933 – California’s anti-miscegenation law was amended to illegalize marriage of a Filipino and a white person.
- 1934 – Although the Philippine Independence Act established the process for the Philippines to become an independent country, it also permitted the US to establish limitations on Filipino immigration and reclassified all Filipinos in the US from US nationals to “aliens.”
- 1942 – Executive Order 9066 authorized the incarceration (internment) of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent, including the confiscation of homes, businesses, and property.
- 2001-2002 – The Patriot Act and the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System[LG1] targeted Arabs, South Asians, and Muslims in America.
- 2017 – Executive Orders 13769 and 13780 introduced travel bans and refugee resettlement prohibitions from several predominately Muslim countries.
- 2020-2021 – Nearly 3,800 AAPI hate incidents were reported to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center.
It is equally important to learn and celebrate the achievements and contributions of the AAPI community to the history of the United States.
- 1869 – The transcontinental railroad was completed by a majority of Chinese immigrants.
- 1898 – United States v. Wong Kim Ark established the precedent that anyone born in the United States is a citizen regardless of race or parental status.
- 1940’s – Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu (known as The First Lady of Physics) became the first woman hired as a faculty member by Princeton’s physics department.
- 1950’s – Dr. Min Chueh Chang pioneered research making in vitro fertilization possible.
- 1964 – Masanori Murakami became the first Japanese man to play Major League Baseball and Patsy T. Mink was sworn in as the first Asian American and woman of color in Congress.
- 1980’s – Yuri Kochiyama was a Japanese American activist who campaigned for reparations for Japanese Americans through the Civil Liberties Act.
- 1992 – Although, the process to celebrate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders began in 1977, it wasn’t until 1992 that May officially became AAPI Heritage Month.
- 2019 – Amanda Nguyen was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her work on the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act.
- 2021 – Yuh-Jung Youn became the first Korean actor to win an Academy Award; Steven Yeun was the first Asian American nominated for best actor; and Chloe Zhao became the first Asian American woman to win best director.
This May, we invite you to join us in taking the time to learn, honor, and understand the history and impact of the AAPI community here in the US:
- Explore “A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America”
- Learn about key Asian American figures in the history of the United States
- Discover parks, trails, and historic sites associated with AAPI history
- View photos from Manzanar War Relocation Center taken by Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Toyo Miyatake
- Visit the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
- Read books about the Asian Pacific American experience
- Watch the PBS series on the history of identity, contributions, and challenges experienced by Asian Americans.
- Attend a virtual Bystander Intervention training to stop anti-Asian/American and xenophobic harassment.