Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

October 20, 2014 • National, News

By P.C. Staff

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. According to the Library of Congress, May was chosen “to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.”

APA Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. The next month, Sen. Daniel Inouye and Sen. Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both passed.

On Oct. 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution designating the annual celebration, and in May 1990, President George H. W. Bush designated May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Following is a timeline of important Asian American milestones.

1898   U.S. assumes control of Hawaii and the Philippines after winning the Spanish-American War

1924   Immigration Act of 1924 establishes immigration quotas on Asians

1942   Executive Order 9066 orders 120,000 people of Japanese descent to internment camps

1946   Wing Ong becomes the first Asian American elected to state office (Arizona)

1956   California’s Dalip Singh Saund becomes the first Indian American in Congress

1959   Hawaii’s Hiram Fong becomes first Chinese American in the Senate

1959   Hawaii’s Daniel K. Inouye becomes first Japanese American in Congress

1964   Hawaii’s Patsy Takemoto Mink becomes the first nonwhite woman in Congress

1979   First Asian/Pacific Heritage Week is recognized

1985   Ellison Onizuka becomes first Asian American astronaut in space

1988   Civil Liberties Act of 1988 pays restitution to Japanese American internees

1992   California’s Jay Kim becomes first Korean American in Congress

2000   Secretary of Commerce Norman Mineta becomes first Asian American Cabinet member

2001   Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao becomes first woman Asian American Cabinet member

2007   Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal becomes first Indian American governor

2013   Kevin Tsujihara becomes first nonwhite CEO of a major Hollywood studio

2014   Satya Nadella becomes CEO of Microsoft

Originally published on May 2, 2014

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