By Patrick Mills, NCEL
In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.
In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration that is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Per a 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month offers us an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have made to our nation, reflect on the challenges still faced by AAPI communities, and recommit to making the American Dream a reality for everyone. AAPIs comprise many ethnicities and languages, and their myriad of achievements embody the American experience. Many AAPI communities continue to fight prejudice and struggle to overcome disparities in education, employment, housing, and health care.
The following facts are made possible from the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau’s surveys. This survey helps us measure America’s people, places and economy.
• The estimated number of Asian/Pacific Americans alone or in combination whoe are residents in the United States from the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau’s is 23.8 million.
• The percentage of the Asian/Pacific Americans alone or in combination population age 25 and older who had at least a high school diploma or equivalency in 2017 is 87.5%