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May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

by Sullivan Trahan

During May, CFACE is proud to join in the celebration of AAPI month. AAPI month celebrates the achievements and contributions of American Asians and Pacific Islanders to American society. May was chosen as AAPI month first because of the first Japanese immigrant to relocate to the United States, a fisherman named Manjiro, who reached the United States on May 7, 1843. Second, AAPI month recognizes the Chinese immigrants’ significant involvement in completing the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 despite facing dangerous and tedious working conditions. 

Throughout American history, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have shown resilience in the face of discrimination and oppression. Infamous examples of the hardship experienced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders include the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 by Congress, which banned Chinese immigration for 20 years; a “Gentleman’s Agreement” between Japan and the United States that restricted Japanese immigration to the United States in 1907; Japanese American internment camps during World War II; and the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. These events foreshadowed some of the same difficulties that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continue to face today such as the spike in hate crimes against the AAPI community that began as at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

However, the AAPI community has demonstrated its strength. Hiram Fong, one of Hawaii’s first senators, became the first Asian Pacific American to serve as a U.S. senator in 1959. Daniel Inoyue, who was of Japanese descent but was born and raised in Hawaii became the first Japanese American to serve in Congress and the first and only senator to receive both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Medal of Honor that commemorated his service in World War II. Today, the AAPI community is the fastest growing racial community within the United States. 

Our Center encourages you to promote the celebration of the AAPI community and their accomplishments! If you would like to know more about how to celebrate and support the AAPI community, please visit the link here to learn more. You can also follow CFACE as we will be posting more information about AAPI on our social media.