As one of the world’s most diverse regions, Los Angeles County is home to more than 1.6 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans (AAPIA) who create it vibrant and lively communities of. In recognition of the immeasurable contributions of all those of Asian heritage the Board of Supervisors has declared the month of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
“Today we commemorate the outstanding achievements of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, from the physically taxing job of cultivating farmland and laboring in fisheries and factories, to the back-breaking work of building the transcontinental railroad and much of America’s infrastructure,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We thank you for the sacrifices and injustice you’ve endured, and for your contributions to make this County a great one.”
Building on a rich history, AAPIAs have been honored for their bravery and service in the US Armed Forces—more than 30 Asian Americans have been awarded the Medal of Freedom. One of the most dedicated units in US military history, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised of second generation Japanese American soldiers who served in World War II. Also, the Navy Fireman First Class Telesforo de la Cruze Trinidad, a Filipino, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for rescuing two men after a boiler exploded on board San Diego on 21 January 1915.
While, they have helped in building the foundation of America, they have also taken their place as captains of industry, leaders of government, and social movements, including, among many others, Chinese American fashion designer Vera Wang; Indian American business executive Indra Nooyi, former Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo and one of the first women to lead a Fortune 500 company; and Korean American judge Herbert Choy, the first Asian American appointed to the federal bench.
Unfortunately, although there have been great advancement there also has been incredible sacrifice. AAPIAs continue to face much of the same discrimination they have experienced throughout American history. Recent reporting has shown an increase in discrimination against AAPIAs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a frequent challenge faced by marginalized communities who are commonly scapegoated during crisis—a painful reminder of the necessity of knowing AAPIA history and heritage.
In connection with this month’s celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Los Angeles County Library is hosting a Virtual Film Festival where it will showcase a film from its online streaming services that residents can watch at home. All month long, The Smithsonian American Art Museum will be highlighting several California-based artists and Japanese American cultural leaders of the twentieth century.
To learn more information about the history of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, please visit: https://asianpacificheritage.gov/