Asian & Pacific Islander American Heritage Month

Asian & Pacific Islander American Heritage Month

Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month got its start as a congressional bill, inspired by Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Week, with the mission of bringing attention to the contributions Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have made to the history and culture of the United States.

But did you know the whole thing was inspired by the work of two dedicated women? Jeanie Jew and Ruby Moy, who work on Capital Hill, spearheaded a campaign to get congressional support for their cause.

As a result of their lobbying, in June 1977 Reps. Frank Horton (NY) and Norman Y. Mineta (CA) introduced a resolution that called for the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye (HI) and Spark Matsunaga (HI) introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating an annual celebration.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension turning it into a month-long celebration. And in 1992, the official designation of May as Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month was signed into law.

Over the years we have had the honor of recognizing many Asian American and Pacific Islander American women in our list of Women’s History Honorees:

Chien-Shiung Wu, 1984
Queen Liliuokalani, 1985, 1989
Patsy Mink, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2002
Tye Leung Shulze, 1987
Jade Snow Wong, 1991
Tsuyako “Sox” Kitashima, 1995
Alice Fong Yu, 1997
Maya Lin, 1999, 2001
Yoshiko Uchida, 1999
Yuri Kochiyama, 2003
Maxine Hong Kingston, 2004
Mary Tsukamoto, 2006
Flossie Wong-Staal, 2013
Jaida Im, 2014
Tammy Duckworth, 2014
Judy Yung, 2015
Karen Narasaki, 2016
Saru Jayaraman, 2018
Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, 2020
Terry Ao Minnis, 2020
Wilhelmina Dowsett, 2020

[Courtesy of the National Women’s History Alliance 730 2nd St., PO Box 469, Santa Rosa, CA 95402]

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