The History of AAPI Month


Lucy Larson, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Asian American and Pacific Islander month (otherwise known as AAPI month) is a month to celebrate and recognize the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans on the history, culture, and achievements in the United States.

In the 1970s, A former congressional staffer by the name Jeanie Jew, approached Representative Frank Horton with the idea of a month dedicated to Asian Pacific Americans.

June 1977 was when the United States House of Representatives proclaimed the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage week. Then in 2009, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation that recognizes the entire month of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

The reason the month of May was chosen was specific for two reasons. May 7, 1843 marked the arrival of the first Japanese Immigrant into the United States. Over two decades later on May 10, 1869, the famous Golden Spike was driven into the Transcontinental Railroad, who’s completion was credited to Chinese Laborers.

I interviewed some Asian/Pacific Islander students around the school about AAPI month and their personal heritage.

“My ethnicity is half Chinese and half White. My mom is from Taiwan. I don’t know a whole lot about AAPI month but I know that it’s to celebrate different cultures like Asians and a few others,” senior, Jessica Haviland, said.

“My dad is definitely one of my biggest cultural role models. He tries to learn as much as he can about the Philippines and teach us what he knows,” sophomore, Karlee Badham, said.

AAPI month is also a recognition of the history of Asians and Pacific Islanders in America. Since immigrating the United States, Asians have been faced with xenophobia, racism, and violence.

During WWII, people of Japanese descent were held in internment camps across the US (one of the most notable being here in Utah).

This specific AAPI month holds much significance. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, racism and xenophobia towards Asians in the US led to spikes in Anti-Asian violence. AAPI people of all ages and backgrounds faced verbal and physical harassment on the basis of their race.

It’s because of these acts of violence that the Stop Asian Hate Movement has gained more attention these past years. People of all cultural backgrounds come to support and listen to the Asian and Pacific Islander voices in their communities.

Use this month as a way to inform yourself about the rich culture and history of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders around you and to recognize and celebrate all of their contributions.