Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
The idea of APAHM originated in 1977 when Rep. Frank Horton (New York) and Rep. Norman Mineta (California) introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian Pacific Heritage week. This was quickly followed by the introduction of a similar bill by Senator Daniel Inouye (Hawaii) and Senator Spark Matsunaga (Hawaii). After passing in both the House and Senate, the following year, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the official designation of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
As we pay tribute to the historic achievements of AAPIs like the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the sacrifices and honors of the 442nd Infantry Regiment of World War II, and the more recent achievements of the first Congresswoman of Chinese American descent, the first Congressperson of South Asian descent, the first Congressperson of Vietnamese descent, and not just 1 but 3 AAPI cabinet members, we must remember those not at the table and without a voice in decision making positions.
As the daughter of refugees who fled political persecution in Laos, I know all too well that while I was privileged enough to go to college, have consistent health coverage, and work at a social justice organization like the National Education Association, this is not the case for all AAPIs, communities of color, women, or Americans. As we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let’s so remember to continue pushing for more and uplifting the next generation to do the same when we’re no longer able to fight the good fight.
For more information, you can reach Monica here.
Monica Thammarath is the Senior Program/Policy Specialist in the Office of Minority Community Outreach (MCO) at the National Education Association (NEA), where she serves as the liaison between the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and NEA’s more than 3 million members. Prior to the NEA, Ms. Thammarath was the education policy advocate for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). Ms. Thammarath’s work is grounded in her experience organizing as a college student and providing services locally around access to affordable and high quality education. The daughter of refugees from Laos, Ms. Thammarath was born and raised in Southeast San Diego, California and a proud product of California’s public K-16 education system.