CAPAC Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Washington, D.C. – Today marks the first day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, an opportunity to recognize the contributions and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). This year, the month-long celebration also coincides with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus’ (CAPAC) twentieth anniversary. May is officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by section 102 of title 36, United States Code. The observance originally began as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, which was established through a joint Congressional resolution in 1978. The month of May was chosen due to two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: May 7, 1843, when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States, and May 10, 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed with substantial contributions from Chinese immigrant workers.
CAPAC Members and House Leaders issued the following statements:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time for our country to celebrate the rich heritage and diverse cultures of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. From building the transcontinental railroad to advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, AAPIs have made vast contributions to the fabric of our society. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am particularly excited this May to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of CAPAC's founding. On this historic milestone, we honor the legacy bestowed by past generations and proudly carry it forward for the AAPI community and all Americans.”
Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (GU), CAPAC Vice Chair: “I join my colleagues and all Americans in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. As a representative of one of our country’s most diverse districts, I have witnessed the many contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made in Guam and throughout the nation. AAPIs have shown their perseverance and resiliency throughout history, and have played an integral role in improving our country. While our nation has made much progress in addressing the many issues affecting the AAPI community, much work remains. CAPAC is at the forefront of these efforts in Congress, and we will continue to give voice to the AAPI community at the federal level. I urge all Americans to use APA Heritage Month to better understand the challenges affecting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and I hope to continue the progress we have made to improving the quality of life not just for AAPIs but all Americans.”
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Whip: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to honor the remarkable contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our nation. In every sector of society, our community has made valuable contributions and it is important to acknowledge and value our steadfast effort. Asian Americans have brought out the best in our communities, and helped to enrich them through exceptional achievements and treasured culture. As CAPAC Whip, I strive to promote the prosperity of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and am proud to celebrate our vibrant history and spirit.”
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “I am proud to celebrate May’s Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month and the millions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) who have made lasting contributions to our nation’s history. APA Heritage Month is a time for our country to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures of AAPIs at festivals with friends and family. It is also a time to reflect upon the sacrifices and influences AAPIs have made in shaping civil rights, social justice, health and medicine, business practices and educational opportunities. It is incumbent on us to recognize the work of those who came before us and continue to lead the ongoing efforts for equality and push on issues such as small business growth, immigration, voting rights, health disparity treatment, promoting workforce diversity and countless other areas. As Chair Emeritus, Immigration Taskforce Co-Chair and Appropriations Taskforce Chair of CAPAC, and as the Representative of California’s 17th district, the first majority AAPI district in the continental U.S., I am especially honored to join my fellow Americans as we honor heroes past and present who have helped to make our nation stronger.”
Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of the contributions made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) across the country and throughout our history. The broader AAPI community has been an integral part of Hawaii and our country’s rich cultural fabric, rooted in history from Native Hawaiians to the Asian immigrant workers who connected the West by rail and built Hawaii’s sugar plantations. The state of Hawaii was also home to many trailblazers in the AAPI community. Senators Inouye and Akaka and Congresswoman Mink were leaders who helped build a stronger, better country. Today, the product of this vibrant history can be seen clearly in the melting pot that is Hawaii’s rich island culture.
“AAPI families not only contribute economically and culturally, but also help connect our nation to the broader international community. After Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines last November, the AAPI community was one of the first to spring into action to help the Philippines recover. Months later as donations tapered off, President Obama signed my Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act into law and Filipino American community groups and families in Hawaii again stepped up to support ongoing relief efforts. This month, let us also recognize and celebrate these personal ties that bind the United States to allies around the world as a truly global nation.”
Senator Brian Schatz (HI): “The strong values and vibrant traditions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are an important part of Hawai‘i’s rich culture. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I hope all Americans will join me in celebrating the unique achievements and lasting legacy of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to Hawai‘i and our nation.”
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), House Democratic Leader: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable contributions, rich cultures and extraordinary achievements of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Americans from Asia and the Pacific have overcome hardship, prejudice, and outright persecution to become an enduring part of the American story. The AAPI community is a reflection of our strength and diversity as a nation, our progress as a society, and our hopes for a future enriched by people of all backgrounds. During this Asian Pacific American Heritage month, let us celebrate the invaluable role AAPIs have played in the triumphs of our past and will play in building our future. Let us recommit ourselves to passing comprehensive immigration reform that will unite our families, and restore confidence in who we are as a people – by and large, a nation of immigrants. Let us honor the thriving and dynamic AAPI community throughout our nation.”
Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD-05), House Democratic Whip: “Throughout May, we honor the contributions by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our history, economy, culture, government, and society. Our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities add to the strength and diversity of our country, and the many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who serve in our Armed Forces at home and overseas do so with the gratitude of the nation they defend. I am proud to join in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and it continues to be a privilege to serve alongside so many outstanding colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, with whom I have worked for years to advance the goals of working to end discrimination, reduce inequality, and expand economic opportunity for all Americans.”
Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus: “Among many achievements, Asian Pacific Americans have served honorably in uniform, grown our economy through entrepreneurship, and served our country at the highest levels of government. Throughout our history, this diverse community has also been instrumental in the struggle to ensure justice and equality for all Americans. In Los Angeles, we see this rich heritage in the vibrant Asian Pacific American communities of Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh and Little Tokyo. I am proud to join my colleagues in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and honoring our fellow Americans who continue contributing to our country’s success.”
Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus: “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates the political, economic, social and cultural contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to New York and our entire country. From business to medicine, from academia to the arts, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had a profound impact on every facet of American society. I am proud to join my fellow Americans in paying tribute to the extraordinary contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our society - past, present, and future - and I will continue to make the realization of equal rights for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders a key part of my work in Congress.”
Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus: “The Asian-Pacific Islander Community of Northeast Ohio is a growing, vibrant part of the region’s and our nation’s rich cultural diversity. Among foreign born immigrants, people of Asian descent now outnumber European immigrants in my district. It is with honor and pride that I recognize Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and urge all Americans to join me in celebrating the history and contributions of our friends, neighbors and co-workers of Asian descent.”
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus: “This May, we recognize the contributions the Asian Pacific American community has made to our country. The Latino and APA community share a commitment to family, hard work, and the American Dream. In Congress, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus will continue working together on comprehensive immigration reform and on issues that impact minority communities across America. I join in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and recognize my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus who are part of such a rich community.”
CAPAC EXECUTIVE BOARD
Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the many contributions our diverse community has made to the United States. From the entrepreneurs and small business owners who drive our economy, to those who have served in our country’s armed forces or have dedicated their lives to public service, Asian Pacific Americans have had an important and lasting impact on our nation. As the only Indian American and South Asian American in Congress, I’m proud to both honor those who have led the way in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and to encourage new generations to become leaders who will continue to enhance the American story and strengthen our great country.”
Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-08): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time for us to both reflect on how far Asian Americans have come and how far we still have to go. Asian Americans helped build this country by constructing the railroads that connected this country from East to West. Despite facing injustices such as the internment camps during World War Two, many served our country to defend democracy and freedom around the world. Now, we are serving in the Cabinet, Congress, and running Fortune 500 companies in greater numbers than ever.
“Still, we have more work to do to make sure that all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are able to achieve the American Dream. On issues especially important to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, such as preserving family cosponsorship as part of immigration reform, I look forward to making sure that our voices are heard.”
Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (AS): “This May, we celebrate the rich heritage and history of Asian Pacific Americans. With a diverse population including over 45 distinct ethnicities and over 100 languages and dialects, Asian-Pacific Americans have made significant contributions to our Nation. This year particularly, we recognize the progress our community has made in championing Asian-Pacific American issues in Congress as the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) celebrates 20 years since its founding. Last but not least, I honor the Asian-Pacific Americans who have dedicated their lives to serving our Nation in the U.S. Armed Forces, including those from my district of American Samoa. As we celebrate our heritage, we honor their sacrifice for our continued freedoms.”
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02): “While celebrating my own Pacific Island heritage, I am proud to honor the unique culture and rich tradition of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Throughout our nation’s history, AAPIs have made tremendous contributions to our communities as leaders at every level. Leaders like Hawai‘i’s Senator Daniel Inouye and Senator Daniel Akaka have broken through barriers, leading the way for generations to follow. Our own Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink was a champion for women and equal treatment throughout her life. Because of these leaders, our communities and our nation are stronger, and our future is brighter.”
Congressman Al Green (TX-09): “Throughout our country’s history, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have greatly contributed to the strength and prosperity of our great nation. The diversity and history of these communities are essential to the American experience. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, my colleagues and I in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), will continue to proudly serve the interests of our Asian American and Pacific Islander constituents.”
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01): “Having grown up as a fourth generation Japanese-American, and in a community with the highest percentage of Native Hawaiians in my home state, I look with pride on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and reflect on all that we have accomplished. Asian and Pacific Islander culture is at the very core of Hawaii’s values, reflecting both the richness that arises from the integration of many currents, and the power that grows when we embrace diversity as a way of life. There is still more for the AAPI community to offer in the future, and it is up to each and every one of us to continue to provide leadership in building on our success. I proudly join my colleagues in celebrating and fostering Asian Pacific Island heritage this month, and every month.”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13): “I’m happy to join communities across the country celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The contributions of Asian Pacific Americans are an integral part of our nation’s history and their many accomplishments are a testament to hard work and perseverance. In my district, the California 13th, the achievements of Asian Pacific Americans are front and center: by serving in elected office, opening new businesses, and participating in the arts, they are contributing to the vibrancy of our community. But there’s more work to be done. This month, and every month, I’m committed to working with my colleagues in CAPAC to expand opportunity and ensure that everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream.”
Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui (CA-06): “Each May, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and pay tribute to the large role Asian Pacific Americans play in our society. The Asian Pacific American community is woven into the fabric of our country, and there is no question that our nation is as strong as it is today thanks to our diversity. As one who represents the historically diverse city of Sacramento, I am honored to join my colleagues and all of America in celebrating the achievements of Asian and Pacific Americans in our communities.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06): “It is a great pleasure to join my constituents in New York and all those across the country in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time for Americans to recognize the important culture and traditions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continue to enrich our nation and make tremendous contributions to virtually every facet of our society – everything from government, business and the arts to science, education and sports. These achievements, and the outstanding vibrancy of the AAPI community, will continue to make America prosper for many years to come.”
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI): “The people of the Northern Marianas once again join other Americans this month in celebrating the many contributions that Pacific Islanders and people of Asian heritage have made to our country. Especially in my district of the Northern Mariana Islands, we are blessed with a rich diversity of peoples of Pacific Islander and Asian descent, and by working together to share and learn from our cultures, we make our community stronger. As the fastest growing segment of America’s population, we look forward to increasing the influence and impact the AAPI community can have in guiding our nation’s vibrant future.”
Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03): “I am proud to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage during the month of May. Asian Pacific Americans have contributed so much to the fabric of our country. I encourage Americans of all backgrounds to educate themselves on the rich heritage of Asian Pacific Americans and to take a moment to honor their contributions to our great nation.”
CAPAC ASSOCIATE MEMBERS
Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11): “I join with my CAPAC colleagues and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the nation in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Northern Virginia is blessed with its rich diversity and Asian Americans are an integral part of the fabric of our community's culture, academic success, politics, and thriving economy. The contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to our society are many and I applaud their entrepreneurship and their dedication to quality education and family.”
Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18): “Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a cherished celebration of the life and history of our country. Economically, culturally, academically and politically, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders play significant roles in our communities and add to the rich tapestry that is our great nation. I’m privileged to represent California’s 18th Congressional District, one of the fastest growing Asian Pacific American populations in the country, with 20 percent of my constituents being of Asian descent.”
Congressman Alan S. Lowenthal (CA-47): “I am proud to join with thousands of people in my district and millions across our country in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month this May. This month, we remember and celebrate the innumerable contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to communities in every corner of our country. From Little Saigon and the Korean Business District in Westminster and Garden Grove to Cambodia Town and the Filipino and Pacific Islander communities in Long Beach, California’s 47th district is a testament to the richness and diversity which Asian Pacific Americans have added to the fabric of our country. This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the end of the Cambodian Genocide and the 39th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, reminding us of the courage and bravery with which millions of Asian Pacific Americans made the journey to the United States to build a better life for themselves and their children.”
Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32): “I am very pleased to join my colleagues in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The positive contributions—past and present—of the AAPI community are evident throughout our San Gabriel Valley and across our nation. As a caucus we are committed to strengthening the voices of this growing population in Congress to ensure they are heard and fairly represented. We hope that you will join us in recognizing the extraordinary accomplishments and diverse culture of all Asian Pacific Americans this May.”
Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52): “It is an honor to join my colleagues this May as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Over the last year I have enjoyed meeting with members of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities across San Diego to hear about their small businesses, efforts to support those hurt by Typhoon Haiyan, and experience the diversity of cultural celebrations. In the next year I will continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, supporting education programs in science, technology, engineering, and math, and funding for scientific research that drives economic growth in our region. I joined the Congressional Asian Pacific Americans Caucus (CAPAC) so that I could most accurately represent the interests of this diverse, dynamic group here in Washington. I look forward to continued opportunities to work with API communities in the future, so that we can bring their important perspective to the ongoing discussions in Congress.”
Congressman Charles B. Rangel (NY-13): “The story of the AAPI community is a testament to what is possible in America. From small local corner-stores to many Fortune 500 businesses, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed to our nation's prosperity and culture. Through strength and determination, the AAPI community has overcome prejudice, oppression and countless barriers to achieve enormous heights. I join my Asian American and Pacific Islander friends in celebrating their diverse heritage and unwavering determination to build a better future for their family and country."
Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (CA-38): “I’m proud to represent a diverse and vibrant Asian Pacific American community. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor and recognize their contributions to the diverse cultural fabric of our country. I join CAPAC in celebrating the continued achievements of the Asian Pacific American community.”
Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09): “During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, it is important that all Americans take time to reflect on the incredible contributions the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has made to our nation. As workers helping to spur our economy, as members of our military defending our nation, and as civic leaders in society, the AAPI community is a critical part of our history. I am honored to represent a district with effective civil rights and advocacy organizations like the Japanese America Citizens League and the Asian Counseling and Referral Services, and museums such as the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. They honor our past, inform our present, and provide hope for our future. They are examples of the tremendous impact Asian Pacific Americans have had on our society. I stand proudly with millions across our country in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.