Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). Stay tuned to this blog for the next few weeks as we set about to telling stories of our #nikkeirebel brothers and sisters from the past. Let’s make it a month of celebrating the JAs in our history who took the rebellious route—becoming the nail that sticks out, and refusing to be pounded down.
Let’s also celebrate the existence of this month in and of itself. Here is a quick review of how our own history month came to be:
It started, officially, in June 1977 when Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Mineta of California introduced US House Joint Resolution 540 to proclaim the first 10 days in May as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week. A month later, Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar resolution called Senate Joint Resolution 72. Unfortunately, at the time, neither of these resolutions passed. Remember, it’s not like this whole multicultural thing happened quickly. It’s been more of a long, hard struggle of all of us POCs.
In June of the following year, Rep. Horton again introduced a House Joint Resolution, this time number 1007. This resolution proposed that the President should “proclaim a week, which is to include the seventh and tenth of the month, during the first ten days in May of 1979, as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’” This joint resolution passed House, and then also passed the Senate, and was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978 to become Public Law 95-419.
In 1990, George H. W. Bush signed a further bill from congress to extend the initial week out into a full month, and make law the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. There were plenty of nikkei behind the scenes, but big shouts out to Mineta, Inouye and Matsunaga.
The month of 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.
Asian-Pacific American (APA) or Asian-Pacific Islander (API) is a term sometimes used in the United States to include both Asian Americans and Pacific Islands Americans.