Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 15, 2024

By Cecilia Schenking 

This May, we honor Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This month holds special significance as we celebrate the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our history. Asian Pacific Islanders encompass a vast array of cultures, languages, and traditions.

The impact of Asian American and Pacific Islanders cannot be understated. From one of the most influential experimental physicists in the 20th Century, Chien-Shiung Wu, who made major contributions to nuclear physics; she worked on the Manhattan Project, to the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Patsy Mink, who was a key author for Title IX which advanced gender equality around the country. From a prolific cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, who won 19 Grammy Awards and has recorded over 90 records, to the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, who is the first Asian American and African American woman to serve as Vice President. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are woven into the history of this nation.

This month marks two days of significance in Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ history in the United States. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States, and on May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed with significant contributions from Chinese pioneers. With the rise of xenophobia over the past couple of years, it is even more important to raise awareness of the issues faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Now more than ever, we need to advocate for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion for all. We can create a world where every individual is treated with dignity, respect, and equality.