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May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which celebrates the achievements of Asian and Pacific-Islander Americans.

Read on to learn more about the history of AAPI Heritage Month (including why it’s celebrated in May), as well as how you can celebrate AAPI Heritage Month at YDL (see right)!

Curious about how AAPI Heritage Month got its start?

To learn more, read this excerpt of “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” courtesy of Minhae Shim Roth of

In 1977, New York representative Frank Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 540, which proposed proclaiming the first 10 days of May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a similar joint resolution the same year. When the resolutions did not pass, representative Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 1007 the following year, which requested the president to proclaim a week during the first 10 days of May starting in 1979, including May 7 and 10, as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.


After the House and the Senate passed the Resolution, President Jimmy Carter signed it into Public Law 95-419 on October 5, 1978. From 1980 to 1990, each president passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. In 1990, Congress expanded the observance from a week to a month. May was annually designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992 under the George H. W. Bush administration with the passing of Public Law 102-540. Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month was renamed as AAPI Heritage Month in 2009.

Why is AAPI Heritage Month Celebrated in May?

According to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the government website dedicated to AAPI Heritage Month, the month of May was chosen for 2 reasons: it honors the first immigration of Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843, and May 10 is the anniversary of  the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Most of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.


Use these resources to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month.