Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

President Jimmy Carter signed Public Law 95-418 recognizing Asian Pacific American Heritage Week in 1978 and directing subsequent Presidents to issue annual proclamations recognition the event. In 1990, President George HW Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to designate May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage month. This month celebrates the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture and achievements of the US.

Asian/Pacific is a very broad term that encompasses over 50 different cultures from the Asian continent as well as the numerous Pacific Islands. Each in their own right have unique histories, cultures and customs.

This year’s recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage month takes on added significance in light of the increase in anti-Asian violence against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.



“We are not a stereotype” Video Series

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center has developed a video series for classroom teachers and caregivers called We are not a stereotype to help educate what it means to be an Asian Pacific American, who is Asian Pacific American and the impacts of Asian Pacific American stereotypes. Please take this opportunity to familiarize yourself and your family on this topic or send to a teacher, coach or administrator who may have this need.

The Struggles of Being An Asian American

Watch a short video on special stories of woman and their struggles growing up Asian American.


Division Spotlights

Asian/Pacific Islander American firsts

  • Jose B Nisperos – Filipino private who was the first Pacific Islander to be awarded the Medal of Honor (1913)
  • Margaret Chung – First American born Chinese doctor (1916)
  • Hiram Fong – First Asian American US Senator (1959)
  • Patsy Mink – First woman of color and Asian American elected to Congress (1964)
  • Ellison Onizuka – First Asian American in space (1985)
  • Vijay Seshadri – First Indian American to win Pulitzer Prize in poetry (2014)

Ways to Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

  • Cook a traditional Asian/Pacific Island recipe
  • Research the vast history of Asian/Pacific Islanders in the US from the Transcontinental Railroad, to Japanese Internment camps during WWII to the Chinese Exclusion Act to the admittance of Hawaii as a US state.
  • Expose yourself to Asian/Pacific Island cultures by listening to music by Asian/Pacific Island artists, watch movies by Asian/Pacific Island filmmakers, read a book by an Asian/Pacific Islander author
  • Go to an event, museum or exhibit that are by/for Asian/Pacific Islander communities
  • Support AAPI owned brands

Ways to support the Asian/Pacific Islander community right now