Designating the month of May as a time to honor the contributions of Americans of Asian-Pacific descent to the history and culture of the U.S. began in June 1977 with a House resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Week. Another resolution was introduced soon afterwards, and, by October 5, 1978 a joint resolution made this an annual commemoration.
In 1992, an extension of the week to a month-long celebration was signed into law. May was chosen since the first Japanese immigration to the U.S. occurred on May 7, 1843, and the transcontinental railroad was officially completed on May 10, 1869, built mainly by Chinese laborers.
Of course, the Asian-Pacific area includes not only Japan and China, but all of Asia, the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, producing an incredibly varied and fascinating melange of customs, art, and beliefs.
For more on current events marking this year’s Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, see the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month website sponsored by the Library of Congress, or the Smithsonian Education Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website.
Find both fiction and non-fiction books for all ages by and about Asian-Pacific Americans in WCC’s Erwin Library book exhibit area on display all this month beside the Reference section.