What is AAPI Heritage Month?

AAPI stands for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This is a general term to represent people whose heritage comes from the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. It began in 1977 by Representative Frank Horton of New York, who proposed that the first ten days in May be dedicated to AAPI heritage. Later that year, Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a similar offer. But both of their ideas were dismissed. It wouldn’t be until a year later that then-President Jimmy Carter signed off the resolution that the first week of May be AAPI week. In 1990, Congress passed Public Law 101-283, which extended the celebration to cover the whole month. However, it still wouldn’t be official until 1992, when Congress passed another law that annually nominated May to be Asian and Pacific Heritage Month. May was chosen as a way to honor the first Japanese immigrant of the United States, Nakahama Manjiró, who came to the U.S. on May 7, 1843. The month is also to celebrate the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1896, as the majority of the workers were Chinese immigrants. This year, President Joe Biden has acknowledged AAPI Heritage month to celebrate the many AAPI people who have had great influence on the cultural and scientific advances in the United States.

— Maya Ross