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Commemorating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Commemorating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

It has been almost 50 years since the U.S. government established that Asian Americans (AA), Native Hawaiians (NH), and Pacific Islanders (PI) and their accomplishments should be recognized annually. What began as a week-long commemoration in 1978 expanded to the month of May in 1990.

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month celebrates the incredibly diverse cultures and contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander Americans—a community that spans generations and includes countless languages and dialects, ethnicities, religions, and countries of origin.

The White House Proclamation states, “From Native Hawaiians (NH) and Pacific Islanders (PI) whose ancestors have called their lands home for hundreds of years to Asian immigrants who have newly arrived and those whose families have been here for generations — AA and NHPI heritage has long been a part of the history of our great country and a defining force in the soul of our Nation. As artists and journalists, doctors and engineers, business, and community leaders, and so much more, AA and NHPI peoples have shaped the very fabric of our Nation and opened up new possibilities for all of us.”

Why do we celebrate AAPI Heritage in May? This month was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants 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.

Unfortunately, during the pandemic there was a significant increase in violence directed at AAPI people in New York and across the country. S:US stands with all our AAPI staff, partners, people we serve, and our community. Hate has no place at S:US or anywhere. We will continue to work hard to ensure all New Yorkers feel safe, protected, and empowered. That’s the heart of what we do.

If you or someone you know has faced harassment or discrimination, contact the NYC Commission on Human Rights by filling out our online form or by calling 212-416-0197. If you are a victim of or witness a hate crime, call 911. There is language support if you need interpretation services.

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