AA & NHPI Heritage Month originated with Congress in the late 1970s. Since its origin, it has honored many different populations, countries and islands that it collectively represents.
In June 1978, Representative Frank Horton of New York introduced House Joint Resolution 1007, which 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 was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978 to become Public Law 95-419. This law amended the original language of the bill and directed the President to issue a proclamation for the “seven-day period beginning on May 4, 1979, as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’”
In 1990, Congress passed Public Law 101-283 which expanded the observance to a month for 1990. Then in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.
In 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration designated May as “Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month” to bring broader visibility to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities and their unique needs.
Today, we celebrate the collective history of how AA & NHPI Heritage Month came to be including the 80th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act (also known as the Magnuson Act) which put an end to the deeply harmful Chinese Exclusion Act that had been in place for 61 years. This month — and every month — we can celebrate the many ways that AANHPI people enrich our communities.
On January 17, 2023, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI) convened federal government officials and community leaders to mark the inaugural release of the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy to Advance Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Communities.
At a special virtual event, senior Biden-Harris Administration officials outlined the details of 32 federal agency plans, which build on the Administration’s previous actions to promote safety and equity for AA and NHPIs. Community leaders also discussed additional steps the federal government can take to address critical priorities for AA and NHPI communities, including data disaggregation, language access, and combatting anti-Asian hate. Watch & read more >>
“Reclaiming My Identity” is a theme of AA & NHPI Heritage Month that was inspired by the Washington Post article, The Power of Reclaiming My Asian Name. In the article, the author explores the significance of her name, and how using it, alongside her anglicized name, allowed her to embrace her complete identity as an Asian American.
An alternative theme “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity” was also inspired in 2021 by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) and is a continuation of the “Advancing Leaders” theme series highlighting efforts in advancing leaders in the Federal and DC government.
AA & NHPI Heritage Month is a time when we celebrate together – but is not intended to be the only time of year that we commemorate our nation’s AA & NHPI Heritage.
During the month of May – and beyond – the National Museum of Asian Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian, and numerous other organizations host family-friendly events in honor of AA & NHPI Heritage.
Use these resources to learn, teach, experience, reflect & share:
Share these readings about AA & NHPI Heritage with friends, family & community:
Share these songs, dances, and informative videos about AA & NHPI Heritage with friends, family & community:
FREE to Register!
Check out these Seattle area experiences!
Below is a list of organizations where you and your loved ones can find support, and support others:
Sources: Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), NPR, The Huddle (UW), The Library of Congress, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH), and the White House Initiative on AA and NHPIs (WHIAANHPI).