Origins of APA Heritage Month
A national celebration begun in 1979
As with Women's History Month and Black History Month, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is a legally recognized observance in the United States. The first two attempts to officially observe Asian/Pacific American heritage met with failure; Rep. Frank Horton of New York and Senator Daniel Inouye both proposed resolutions for an APA Heritage Week. Horton pushed a more precisely timed proposal in 1978 which passed, and came into effect in 1979. APA Heritage Week originally began on May 4, so that it would include the days of the first immigration from Japan (May 7, 1843) and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad (May 10, 1869) accomplished mostly through Chinese immigrant labor.
In 1990, Congress passed a public law marking the expansion of Heritage Week to Heritage Month. Two years later, Congress declared that May should be recognized annually as APA Heritage Month in Public Law 102-450. We've provided the relevant text from the law below.
PUBLIC LAW 102-450—OCT. 23, 1992
SEC. 2. ANNUAL COMMEMORATION.
(a) DESIGNATION.—May of each year is designated as "Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month".
(b) FEDERAL PROCLAMATION.—The President is authorized and requested to issue annually a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe the month designated in subsection (a) with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.
(c) STATE PROCLAMATIONS.—The chief executive officer of each State is requested to issue annually a proclamation calling on the people of the State to observe the month designated in subsection (a) with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.
(d) DEFINITION.—For purposes of subsection (c), the term "State" means any of the several States, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.
Approved October 23,1992.