May Heritage and Awareness

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is celebrated from May 1-31. The month of May commemorates the many contributions and achievements made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

AAPI Heritage Month first began in 1977, according to Rep. Frank Horton of New York introduced House Joint Resolution 540 to proclaim the first 10 days in May as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week. Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a similar resolution in the U.S. Senate.

Since neither of these resolutions passed, in June 1978, Rep. Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 1007. The resolution was a proposal to President Jimmy Carter to proclaim the first 10 days of May 1979 as Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Week. This resolution was passed by the U.S. House and then U.S. Senate, and finally signed by President Carter on Oct. 5, 1978.

For several years, presidents passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Week. In 1990, Congress passed Public Law 101-283, which expanded the week to a month. In 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 recognizing the entire month of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen for AAPI Heritage Month due to two events. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States and on May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed. This honor recognizes that most of the workers who laid the tracks for the transcontinental railroad were Chinese immigrants.

Jewish American Heritage Month

Jewish American Heritage Month is celebrated to commemorate Jewish Americans and their influence on American history, culture and society. The celebration of the 370th Anniversary of Jewish American History will be in May 2024.

Haitian Heritage Month

Haitian Heritage Month celebrates the vibrant culture, art and food of the Haitian community and to also recognize the struggles of the Haitian people. Haitian Heritage Month is celebrated in May as a carryover of the island’s Haitian Flag Day, which is May 18.