Beyond the Bio

A Closer Look at Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

A Closer Look at Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, when we celebrate the many  contributions and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. RumbergerKirk recognizes and honors the rich history, culture and traditions of these diverse communities. We put together a few facts about the month and the many communities it represents and gathered a list of resources to encourage awareness and celebration.

  Did you know?

  • Asian American and Pacific Islanders is a large umbrella term including all people of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander ancestry. But what does that mean?
    • AAPI encompasses people who speak over 100 languages in addition to English, and includes nearly 50 ethnic groups from East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Pacific Islands and their diasporas.
    • According to the joint website hosted by the Library of Congress and other partners, the Pacific islands include Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).
  • AAPI Heritage Month began as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week’ in 1978 and later ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month’ in 1992 and renamed in 2019 to Asian American and Pacific islander Heritage Month.
  • Recognition of two significant historical events drove Congress to mark May as the annual celebration: First, May 7, 1843 marks the date the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States; and Second, completion of the construction of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.
  • Recently, the 2022 multiverse film Everything Everywhere All at Once and the 2019 South Korean thriller Parasite both made Oscar history by winning Best Picture and other Academy Awards. Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Actress earlier this year and Ke Huy Quan became the first Asian man since 1985 to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Additional resources for growing awareness and celebrating:

  • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website: a collaborative project of the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • National Park Service –Dig deeper into the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander cultures and discover how these ancient cultures have both shaped the history of the United States and had their lives dramatically influenced by moments in its history.

While we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month each May, it is important to continue to support and uplift the community throughout the year.