WASHINGTON – Last Tuesday marked the start of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which is celebrated each May to recognize the history, contributions, and achievements of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. To commemorate this month-long observance, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:
• Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “Each May, we come together to celebrate the vibrant history and widespread contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our nation. As laborers who helped build the first transcontinental railroad and contribute to the farm worker movement, and military service members who have fought valiantly in battles dating back to the American Civil War, the rich cultural heritage of the AAPI community is inextricably woven into the fabric of our nation.
“From our indigenous Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities to our more recent refugee and immigrant populations, AAPIs have also planted deep roots in their local communities as small business owners, entrepreneurs, teachers, doctors, artists, lawyers, scientists, and public servants.
“As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us honor the tireless work of generations of AAPIs who came before us and recommit ourselves to advancing the work that still lies ahead. Together, we have the power to speak out against dangerous policies targeting immigrant, refugee, and minority populations and to build a brighter future for generations to come.”
• Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), CAPAC vice chair: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of our diversity and the contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make to our nation every day. We are a nation of immigrants, whose ancestors came to America seeking liberty, prosperity, and human dignity. As we celebrate APA Heritage Month, we should be mindful of this history and remember that ours was a country founded on compassion and justice.
“I am proud to join my colleagues in honoring the heritages of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and I encourage all Americans to take time during APA Heritage Month to appreciate the achievements and patriotism of the AAPI community.”
• Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Manhattan Beach), CAPAC whip: “This month, we celebrate and honor our country’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The AAPI community has made indelible contributions to American society and culture and continues to demonstrate the importance and value of diversity and inclusion. As an Asian American, I am grateful for the AAPI trailblazers who carved a path for people like me to thrive fields like public service, art, education, business, research, science, journalism and entertainment. Ensuring people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed is the best thing we can do for our country.”
• Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to reflect on and take pride in the numerous contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout our nation’s history and of the continued contributions of our children and our children’s children. As we celebrate our community this May, we should also look ahead and continue to work for progress for our community and ensure the American Dream remains within reach for all.”
• Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii): “As we observe Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we celebrate the progress AAPI communities have made across the country. However, these are unusual times. As communities of color are attacked by the Trump administration, we must all continue the work that we’re doing and increase our efforts to achieve equality and opportunity for all.”
• Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii): “The AAPI community has made exceptional contributions to our country throughout history. Hawaii’s own leaders like Sen. Daniel Inouye, Sen. Daniel Akaka, Congresswoman Patsy Mink, the Nisei-only 442nd Infantry Regiment, and our Filipino WWII veterans have shaped our collective history by breaking down barriers and working with unwavering conviction to better the lives of all Americans. Our AAPI community today continues to lead across every sector — from government, business, and military service, to culture, arts, technology, healthcare, and so much more.”
• Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles): “It is an honor and privilege to represent a district as diverse as California’s 34th Congressional District. From the communities of Koreatown, Chinatown, and Historic Filipinotown, to the neighborhoods of Little Tokyo and Little Bangladesh, Los Angeles provides a diversity of art, culture, and cuisine unlike any other city in the country. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I join my colleagues in honoring the immense contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to America’s greater story and I’m proud to be one of their representatives in Congress.”
• Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “As we mark Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by honoring the contributions our community has made to America, let us remember that there is so much more work to be done. Hawaii is the only majority-AAPI state in the country. Our history is full of examples of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders working to build the foundations of our state’s success in business, education, military service, science, engineering and the arts.
“The AAPI community is one of the fastest-growing groups in America. But as our country continues to diversify we must recognize that we live in challenging times. Divisive rhetoric, discrimination and racism have been given a prominent platform in America. It is up to all of us to remember the struggles of those who came before us. As we honor their work, let us remember their perseverance and continue their fight for equality.”
• Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara): “The many contributions that Asians and Pacific Islanders have made to the community in Silicon Valley and to our country are a testimony to the benefits of embracing diversity. We must ensure that America remains a nation where people from all backgrounds are free to pursue their potential and the American dream.”
• Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland): “This May, I’m proud to join communities across the country in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. By opening new businesses, participating in the arts, serving in elected office, and pioneering new scientific discoveries, the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans are a vital part of our nation’s civic, economic, and cultural development. The East Bay’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths and I am proud to represent such a vibrant Asian Pacific American community.
“As a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and co-chair of the CAPAC Health Care Task Force, I’m committed to expanding opportunity and ensuring that every family can realize the American Dream.”
• Rep. Doris O. Matsui (D-Sacramento): “I’m pleased to join my colleagues in celebrating the profound impact that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had on American life. From contributions in the arts, to science, to civic life, the AAPI community has played in an important role in enhancing our country’s multifaceted identity. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I encourage all Americans to join in celebrating those contributions and look for ways to value diversity in their communities.”
• Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “I’m thrilled to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) with my fellow Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) across the nation and in Queens. APAHM is a joyous month to reflect on the unique and many contributions that AAPIs have made to our country. Our participation in American society has grown exponentially since the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843.
“From the Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad to the millions of small business owners across America, AAPIs are part of the American social fabric. Today, it is encouraging to see AAPIs are participating in our political system, the military, academia, entertainment, and sports. They are actors and actresses, politicians, doctors, lawyers, bankers, athletes and soldiers.
“While we celebrate our shared success, we must also invest in overcoming inequality and ensure AAPIs have an equal chance at the American Dream. In Congress, I will continue to fight for policies that ensure AAPIs receive equal treatment and justice and to have our contributions to American society recognized nationally.”
• Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va): “I am proud to celebrate Asian American Pacific/Islander (AAPI) heritage month. During this time, we reflect on the many contributions that the AAPI community has made in the development and success of this country. The APPI community has been an integral part of the story of America.”
• Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “Each year, the month of May is a time to recognize the many contributions Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent have made to the United States. Members of the AAPI community have been an essential part of our nation for centuries. We have created businesses, developed new technologies, produced great works of art, and served America in times of peace and times of war. As I join my colleagues in CAPAC to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I do so with pride in all that we have achieved and excitement for all the achievements yet to come.”
May is officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by Section 102 of Title 36, United States Code. The observance originally began as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, which was established through a joint congressional resolution in 1978 and was expanded to a full month in 1992. The month of May was chosen due to two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: May 7, 1843, when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the U.S., and May 10, 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed with substantial contributions from Chinese immigrant workers.