Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month – May 2024

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Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month – May 2024

May 1, 2024

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Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (designated 1990) celebrates the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) in the United States. The AANHPI umbrella term encompasses cultures from the entire Asian continent, including East Asia, Southeast and South Asia, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

Observed annually in May, AANHPI Heritage Month is a time to reflect upon and celebrate the remarkable role of the AANHPI community in the nation’s history. The month of May was selected to reflect the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States in May 1843, as well as the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in May 1869, which was built largely by Chinese workers. This year’s AANHPI Heritage Month theme is: “Bridging Histories, Shaping Our Future.”

On Terminology:

The term “Asian American” was created in 1968 by student activists Emma Gee and Yuji Ichioka in an effort to unify the political identity of different groups of people of Asian descent. With the Black Power Movement, the American Indian Movement, and anti-war movements expanding, Gee and Ichioka named their student organization the “Asian American Political Alliance” to increase the visibility of activists of Asian descent and to consolidate their efforts. The term “Asian American” also pushed back against the usage of the Euro-centric term “Oriental” to refer to Asians in the United States, which holds racist and colonialist connotations.

In the 1980s, the “Asian American” umbrella term expanded to include Pacific Islanders under the denomination “AAPI.” In 2021, the Biden Administration proclaimed the month of May to be to “AANHPI Heritage Month,” thus officially including the Native Hawaiian designation in the month’s title for the first time. Though the term AANHPI is widely accepted, it is important to remember that it encompasses myriad communities from dozens of countries.

Celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month:

Events and activities:

Monthlong Exhibitions:

Sources: EDSITEment!.org, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage and History in the U.S., Federal Asian Pacific American Council, AANHPI Resource Center., Library of Congress, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, Minhae Shim Roth, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month