Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage

Celebration

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

History

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, 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).

Like most commemorative months, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month originated with Congress. In 1977 Reps. Frank Horton of New York introduced House Joint Resolution 540 to proclaim the first ten days in May as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week. In the same year, Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a similar resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 72. Neither of these resolutions passed, so in June 1978, Rep. Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 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 was passed by the House and then the Senate and was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978 to become Public Law 95-419 (PDF, 158kb). This law amended the original language of the bill and directed the President to issue a proclamation for the “7 day period beginning on May 4, 1979 as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’” During the next decade, presidents passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week until 1990 when Congress passed Public Law 101-283 (PDF, 166kb) which expanded the observance to a month for 1990. Then in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 (PDF, 285kb) which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

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. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Library of Congress. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. asianpacificheritage.gov/about/

Heritage | Resources

Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Resources

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Virginia

Noteworthy Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia

VMFA Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits – Ticketed exhibit available through October 16, 2022

Engagement

Henrico unites to stop Asian hate

The Henrico community united on the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings that killed six Asian women. County leaders joined the March 16 vigil at Short Pump Park where the crowd came together to stop Asian hate and pray for peace.

People

Officer Josh C. Bridges, Patrol Bureau, West Station, Evening Watch, B Platoon, Henrico County Police Division

Officer Josh C. Bridges

What is meaningful to you about your heritage and identity?

I am a mixed person with both Korean and American heritage. Even though I am not fully Korean, my Korean heritage has shaped much of who I am. Examples include values like hard work and respect for others.

What would you like others to know about your heritage and identity? 

My mother, a Korean immigrant, persevered through difficult circumstances to make a new life in America and dedicated herself to building relationships with and serving others. Every day I strive to live up to the example she set.

How has your experience at Henrico County influenced your engagement around your heritage and identity with others? 

Patrolling the County and interacting with people from many heritages and identities similar to, and different from, my own has allowed me to better understand my own heritage and identity and how it has shaped me.


Senior Officer Bach Nguyen, Patrol Central Evenings B Platoon, EOD Apprentice, Henrico County Police Division

Senior Officer Bach Nguyen

What is meaningful to you about your heritage and identity?

I am very proud of my heritage and identity as an Vietnamese American. I am first generation – my parents came to the U.S. to seek a better life. My heritage is important to me because it shows me where I come from and shaped me for who I am today. It shows in my language and customs/courtesies. My parents left their home country for a new world and brought along their heritage. It is important to keep my heritage alive as I do not live in Vietnam but in the U.S.  

What would you like others to know about your heritage and identity? 

I am proud to be Asian-American.

How has your experience at Henrico County influenced your engagement around your heritage and identity with others? 

There have been many times since I have been with the Henrico County Police Division when I have had encounters with other Vietnamese Americans and Asian Americans. I am proud I can relate to them through our heritage and identity. It appears they feel more comfortable being able to speak to someone who speaks their native language or even just shares the same Asian American identity. I believe the connection helps my partners to get past language barriers and solve a problem successfully. In turn, my partners can learn more about my heritage. 


Officer Sopheap “Soap” Chamreun, Crisis Intervention Team & Asian Community Liaison, Henrico County Police Division  

Officer Sopheap “Soap” Chamreun

What is meaningful to you about your heritage and identity? 

The Cambodian community is a respectful community who help each other in a time of need. 

What would you like others to know about your heritage and identity? 

My parents brought us to America to seek refuge from the war and to provide us with a better opportunity.

How has your experience at Henrico County influenced your engagement around your heritage and identity with others? 

Being the Asian Community Liaison opened the door to creating our department’s Intercultural Liaison Partnership, which consists of officers from different cultural backgrounds. The Intercultural Liaison Officers take a proactive approach to developing and strengthening relationships within our culturally diverse communities.

Henrico County Public Library Celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month – Library News

Celebrate with Henrico County Public Library

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Read on for upcoming programs, book discussions, and recommendations – we hope to see you at the library to learn more about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage with us!

Local Resources

Want to learn more? Connect with local Asian American organizations to explore resources in your community!

Recommended Titles

Kids

Recommended Titles (Continued)

Easy (Picture Books)

Teen

Adults

 
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