This April, Stonehill College’s Office of Intercultural Affairs is celebrating Asian-Pacific Islander-Desi American Heritage Month. The month’s events honor and celebrate the cultures, histories, and legacies of Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi people. The Office’s live calendar will keep you updated, and you can follow them on Twitter. Many college campuses celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in April or April and early May, because classes, finals, commencement, and the start of summer all make May an extremely busy month in students’ lives.
In May, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will all be celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This broad term “encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia… Micronesia… and Polynesia.”
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month was first proposed by Reps. Frank Horton and Sen. Daniel Inouye in 1977; their congressional resolutions failed, and so in 1978 Re. Horton introduced a new resolution for an Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. “This joint resolution was passed by the House and then the Senate and was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978 to become Public Law 95-419. This law amended the original language of the bill and directed the President to issue a proclamation for the ‘7 day period beginning on May 4, 1979 as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.”’ During the next decade, presidents passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week until 1990 when Congress passed Public Law 101-283 which expanded the observance to a month for 1990. Then in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”
May commemorates the first immigration of peoples from Japan to the United States, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which was largely constructed by Chinese Immigrants. You can watch The Grandest Enterprise Under God, a film about the building of the transcontinental railroad, the role of Chinese laborers in its construction, and the impact of the railroad on Southern Plains Indian Tribes. Or, watch Gold Mountain Dreams, from the series, Becoming American: The Chinese Experience. This documentary “traces the Chinese experience in America, from their welcome in San Francisco … through their building of the Transcontinental Railroad, to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.”
If you are interested in other resources related to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the library has access to eBooks such as Asian American Studies Now: A Critical Reader and Race, Rights, and the Asian American Experience, as well as print books including Focusing on the underserved: immigrant, refugee, and indigenous Asian American and Pacific Islanders in higher education.
For information on additional events, visit the National Endowment for the Humanities’ dedicated website, check out the website for the National Park Service, or visit the Exhibits and Collections page of the Library of Congress’s Asian Pacific Heritage Month website.
For help accessing library resources, contact the reference librarians by email or at 508-565-1329.