COLUMBUS, Ohio — Monday marked the start of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
It is celebrated in May to mark the anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
It also commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843.
Asian and Pacific Americans make up approximately 6% of the U.S. population, which is more than 20 million people. Their ancestral roots represent more than 50% of the world.
AAPI celebrates the many accomplishments Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made that changed history and the landscape of several industries.
- Washington representative Pramila Jayapal is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is also the first Asian American to represent Washington on a federal level and she’s the first woman to represent the 7th Congressional District in Seattle.
- In 2020, Congress presented the congressional gold medal to about 20,000 Chinese-American World War II veterans 75 years after the war ended.
- In 1985, Ellison Onizuka became the first Asian-American and the first person of Japanese origin to go to space.
- In 2010, Rich Cho became the first Asian-American general manager of an NBA team, the Portland Trailblazers.
- In 2020, Chief Master Sergeant Joanne Bass became the first Asian-American to hold a senior enlisted position in the U.S. Air Force.
- 2017 marked the first year that three Asian-American women were in the U.S. Senate: Kamala Harris of California, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.
The theme of this year’s AAPI month is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.”
Each week this month, 10TV is celebrating the histories and accomplishments of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in central Ohio.
May 10 | Conversation: Asian American Representation in Ohio and Local Politics at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
May 21 | Columbus Dragon Boat Race
May 27-28 | Asian Festival