Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month


Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Jennifer Nelson

Written by Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

May 3, 2022 / Read Time 3 minutes

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Did you know that every May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month? Why is it observed? What is this year's theme? How could you celebrate it? Let's talk about AAPI heritage month and why it is so important.

When Is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated in May every year. 

AAPI Heritage Month History

AAPI Heritage Month originally started off as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week in 1979 before eventually becoming Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992.

Why May? The first 10 days of May were originally chosen to honor the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant in the United States (May 7, 1843) and the contributions of Chinese workers to building the transcontinental railroad, which was completed May 10, 1869.

AAPI Heritage Month 2023 Theme

The 2023 theme for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity. It is part of a theme series for 2021-2024 which highlights the Federal Asian Pacific American Council's (FAPAC) efforts in "Advancing Leaders."

Purpose-driven service empowers leaders who believe in leading with values, creating a positive culture, offering frequent encouragement and feedback, and putting employees first. When leaders understand they can make a difference by serving others more than themselves, the entire community benefits.

AAPI Heritage Month Facts

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let's look at some AAPI heritage facts:

  • There are nearly 30 million Asian alone-or-in-combination residents in the United States.

  • Of that 30 million, 5.2 million are of Chinese, except Taiwanese, descent; 4.6 million are Asian Indian; 4.2 million are Filipino; 2.2 million are Vietnamese; 1.9 million are Korean; and 1.5 million are Japanese.

  • There were 1.6 million Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone-or-in-combination residents of the United States as of 2019.

  • Of that 1.6 million, 607,010 are Native Hawaiian; 204,640 are Samoan; and 160,773 are Guamanian or Chamorro.

  • The earliest known Asian immigrants to America sailed from the Philippines to the coast of California in 1587.

  • In the 18th century, Filipino sailors settled just outside New Orleans and created what is thought to be the oldest Asian American settlement in the US.

  • The first Japanese immigrant to America was a 14-year-old fisherman named Manjiro who arrived May 7, 1843. He had been picked up by a whaling ship after being stranded on an island for 5 months following a shipwreck.

  • Somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 Chinese immigrants helped build the western portion of the transcontinental railroad, with hundreds, if not thousands, dying in the process.

How to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month

In general, the best way to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month is to learn more about Asian American and Pacific Islanders, their history, struggles, and successes. There are plenty of ways to do that, from reading books to watching documentaries to eating the foods and learning the history of each dish.

With that in mind, here are a few more specific ways you can celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in 2023:

Learn More: Asian American and Pacific Islander Health Disparities

How to Support Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities

If you would like to help support AAPI communities, here are some organizations you could consider contributing to:


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