May marks the annual celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States. In 1978 Congress proclaimed the first week of May as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.” Future Presidents continued this annual proclamation until 1992 when Congress and President George H.W. Bush signed a law designating the month of May to celebrate the contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans to the country. A similar proclamation was signed by Missouri Governor Mike Parson in April 2022 declaring May as Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of 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).
The month of May was specifically chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese immigrant (Manjiro who was just 14 years old) to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 aka Golden Spike Day. (The railroad was completed with a Golden Spike engraved with the names of the railroad officers and directors) The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
Our American life has benefitted from the extraordinary contributions of those who trace their roots back to Asia and the Pacific island region. Our nation’s story would be incomplete without the voices of countless Asian American native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who call this land home. Twenty-four million people (As of the 2020 Census) identified as Asian and 1.6 million identified as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, either as their only identity or in combination with another identity.
Learn more about AAPI Heritage Month:
- NAMI: Asian American and Pacific Islander
- NPR: The story behind Asian Pacific American Heritage, and why it’s celebrated in May
Please see below for Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month events/activities being held in the St. Louis community:
- The St. Louis Public Library has month long events and activities dedicated to Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month including:
- Mahjong Informational Display
May 1-31 / All Day / Central Library
Drop in to see a set of mahjong tiles and learn about how the game is played! Suitable for Adults.
- Paper Lanterns
May 1-31 / All Day / Carpenter Library
Learn more about the lore behind paper lanterns then make one of your own to take home! Suitable for Families.
- Asian American Food
May 18 / 4-5 p.m. / Machacek Library
Learn about the origins of modern Asian American foods while making crafts inspired by a variety of Asian cultures. Create a book of recipes and include fun facts you learned. Suitable for Grades K-8.
- Film Night: Everything Everywhere All At Once
May 25 / 5-7:30 p.m. / Carpenter Library
Join us for a showing of the hilarious and heart-warming film, “Everything Everywhere, All at Once.” Suitable for Adults.
- Mahjong Informational Display
The St. Louis County Library also has month long events and programming.