On May 1, 2018, Governor Charles D. Baker today signed House Bill 3360, An Act designating May as Asian American Pacific Islander Month. The bill was filed by State Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy) as an Asian Caucus priority, with caucus members Representative Donald Wong (R-Saugus), Representative Paul Schmid, III (D-Westport), Representative Keiko Orrall (R-Lakeville), and Representative Rady Mom (D-Lowell) also signed on.
May was chosen as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month 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.
AAPIs have a long and rich heritage of involvement in the history of the United States. If you didn’t know this, consider taking the time, particularly this month of May, but also any time you learn about US history, to inquire and ask about how AAPIs have played a role in shaping the country of America.
About Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
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 Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.
Library of Congress
Office of Minority Health
Each week, we will be hosting a webinar highlighting various AAPI content via social media in accordance with the theme for the week! Make sure to tune in on our Facebook live and check back for updates.
AAPI History: Debunking Stereotypes & Finding Our Voices
May 4, 2020
For our first feature, we had a virtual conversation discussing how issues regarding anti-Asian sentiment can be traced back to events in AAPI history, why it is important to break the stereotype of not speaking up and getting civically involved.
- AAC Program Director, Jay Wong
- AAC Western MA Coordinator, Brooke Kamalani Yuen
- C.N. Le, Professor of Sociology & the Director of the Asian American Studies Certificate Program at UMass Amherst
- Dr. Mabel S. Lam, AAC Commissioner and Clinical Psychologist
- Lily Tang, UMass Amherst Student Activist & Outreach Coordinator for the Commonwealth Seminar
Panel: Living Outside the Pacific Islands
May 12, 2020
For this event we held a panel unpacking personal accounts of being a Pacific Islander living in New England.
- Kamalani Yuen is a mixed Native Hawaiian residing in Western MA and working part-time as the Western MA Community Engagement Coordinator for the Asian American Commission. She was born and raised until the age of 10 in Hawai’i, and has moved across the country since then. She also teaches at Springfield Prep Charter School in Western MA. She recently graduated from UMass Amherst with a degree in Public Health, and spent most of her college career working for the Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center (the Native American Cultural Center on campus) advocating for indigenous students.
- Elaona Lupetu’ulelei Lemoto is a first-generation Tongan American currently living in Western MA and attending Smith College. She is really interested in data encryption and collection for marginalized communities. In her off time, she likes playing squash.
- Kalo Daley is a mixed Samoan-American, born and raised in Cambridge, MA. Villages: Magiagi and Fasitoouta, Upolu. She’s a rising Junior at Smith College where she studies critical analyses of American and Global Colonial History, and Studio Art. In her free time, she loves to create art in any and all forms.
- Vincent Aaron Cian Saolotoga Daley was born in Apia, Samoa at Moto’otua Hospital and grew up in Cambridge, MA by way of his Irish-American father. He grew up with passions for mental and physical health, with an existential and spiritual view on wellness. He is currently a Strength and Conditioning Coach in Newton, MA and enjoys exploring the truths and questions of our human nature and reality.
How to Make a Ribbon Lei
May 15, 2020
We featured a tutorial of how to make a ribbon lei with Kamalani Yuen and La’i Yuen. In this event, you will learn the importance and meaning of the Hawaiian lei.
**Make sure to get your ribbon if you haven’t already!**
- 2 different colored ribbons in the size of 3/8” about at least 5 yards long
Live Paint Session with @fiyab0mb
May 24, 2020
Join Asian American artist Olivia Nguyen, otherwise known as @fiyab0mb, and AAC for an afternoon of art & a discussion.
We are excited to announce that she will be painting a piece celebrating AAPI Heritage Month. Viewers can tune into her FREE painting tutorial at 3PM EST on her Instagram Live (@fiyab0mb). Make sure to get your materials in time!
After the tutorial there will be a Q&A discussion that will be led by Program Director, Jay Wong. We will be talking about Olivia’s experience as an Asian American artist, her family’s story of how they immigrated here from Vietnam, how her background has shaped her identity, and her other passions.
Olivia Be’ Nguyen, whom also goes by the name of “Fiyabomb” is a 28 year old, Vietnamese self-taught from Connecticut. As an artistic feminist, speaking and educating women through her paintings and words through social media and in person has caught the attention of several supporters nationwide. Nguyen has used her social media as a personal gain to inspire individuals across the world.
Nguyen’s main focus in her paintings are actual life-countered experiences that she personally decided to share with the world, especially women. Several of her paintings are dedicated to women empowerment and self-love and self-reflection. From a broke college student, to a college graduate working at a nail salon, Nguyen has paved the way for herself and many other younger aspired artists whom desire to share the same life-long passionate dream of creating.