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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Home

What is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

In June 1978, Rep. Frank Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 1007. This resolution proposed that the President should “proclaim a week, which is to include the seventh and tenth of the month, during the first ten days in May of 1979 as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’” This joint resolution was passed by the House and then the Senate and was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978 to become Public Law 95-419.  During the next decade, presidents passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week until 1990 when Congress passed Public Law 101-283 which expanded the observance to a month for 1990. Then in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and 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.

Adapted from The Library of Congress 

AANHPI Profiles

Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian woman to go up in space in 1997. On February 1, 2003, as a member of the ill-fated Columbia shuttle crew, Chawla would be honored for a life she lived too briefly--but during which she realized spectacular achievements against great odds. She was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the NASA Space Flight Medal, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. .

Read more about Kalpana Chawla

"Kalpana Chawla." Gale Biography Online Collection, Gale, 2004. Gale In Context: Biography.


Chloe Zhao

Chloe Zhang

In 2021 Chloe Zhao became the first female filmmaker to win a Golden Globe for Best Director since 1983 and the first woman of color to win an Academy Award for best director. The acclaimed Chinese American auteur won the awards for Nomadland, an independent drama starring actress Frances McDormand. Zhao received a total of four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. Zhao also became the second woman to win a BAFTA award for directing after Nomadland landed four nominations.


"Chloé Zhao." Gale Biography Online Collection, Gale, 2021. Gale In Context: Biography.


Browse selected titles below from the SCC Library then search for more print books and ebooks.

Browse Non Fiction Books and ebooks from the SCC Library

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Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects 

A rich and compelling introduction to the history of Asian Pacific American communities as told through 101 objects, from a fortune cookie baking mold to the debut Ms. Marvel comic featuring Kamala Khan Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects invites readers to experience both well-known and untold stories through influential, controversial, and meaningful objects. 

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Another Appalachia

A queer Asian American teacher and writer, Avashia fits few Appalachian stereotypes. But the lessons she learned in childhood about race and class, gender and sexuality continue to inform the way she moves through the world today: how she loves, how she teaches, how she advocates, how she struggles. Another Appalachia examines both the roots and the resonance of Avashia's identity as a queer desi Appalachian woman, while encouraging readers to envision more complex versions of both Appalachia and the nation as a whole. 

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Manifest Technique

An obscured vanguard in hip hop Filipino Americans have been innovators and collaborators in hip hop since the culture's early days. But despite the success of artists like of the Black Eyed Peas and superstar producer Chad Hugo, the genre's significance in Filipino American communities is often overlooked. Mark R. Villegas considers sprawling coast-to-coast hip hop networks to reveal how Filipino Americans have used music, dance, and visual art to create their worlds.

They Called Us Enemy

A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei's childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love. Long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, Takei woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father's -- and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

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One Jump at a Time

In this exhilarating memoir, three-time World Champion and Olympic gold-medalist Nathan Chen tells the story of his remarkable journey to success, reflecting on his life as a Chinese American figure skater and the joys and challenges he has experienced--including the tremendous sacrifices he and his family made, and the physical and emotional pain he endured.

My Life: Growing up Asian in America

A collection of thirty heartfelt, witty, and hopeful thought pieces on the experience of growing up Asian American. There are 23 million people, representing more than twenty countries, each with unique languages, histories, and cultures, clumped under one banner: Asian American. Though their experiences are individual, certain commonalities appear. 

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This Is One Way to Dance

In her memoir in essays, Sejal Shah explores culture, language, family, and place. Throughout the collection, Shah reflects on what it means to make oneself visible and legible through writing in a country that struggles with race and maps her identity as an American, South Asian American, writer of color, and feminist. 

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Our Voices, Our Histories

Our Voices, Our Histories brings together thirty-five Asian American and Pacific Islander authors to explore the historical experiences, perspectives, and actions of Asian American and Pacific Islander women in the United States and beyond. The contributions present new research on diverse aspects of Asian American and Pacific Islander women's history, from the politics of language, to the role of food, to experiences as adoptees, mixed race, and second generation.

Asians and Pacific Islanders in American Football

This book sheds light on experiences relatively underrepresented in academic and non-academic sport history. It examines how Asian and Pacific Islander peoples used American football to maintain a sense of community while encountering racial exclusion, labor exploitation, and colonialism. 

The First Fifteen

In 1998, an Asian woman first joined the ranks of federal judges with lifetime appointments. It took ten years for the second Asian woman to be appointed. Since then over a dozen more Asian women have received lifetime federal judicial appointments. This book tells the stories of the first fifteen. 

The Loneliest Americans

In 1965, a new immigration law lifted a century of restrictions against Asian immigrants to the United States. Nobody, including the lawmakers who passed the bill, expected it to transform the country's demographics. But over the next four decades, millions arrived, including Jay Caspian Kang's family. This is the unforgettable story of Kang and his family as they move from a housing project in Cambridge to an idyllic college town in the South and eventually to the West Coast.

Browse Fiction Books and ebooks from the SCC Library

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Almost American Girl

A powerful and moving teen graphic novel memoir about immigration, belonging, and how arts can save a life.  For as long as she can remember, it's been Robin and her mom against the world. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn't understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics.Then one day Robin's mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined. 

This Light Between Us: a Novel of World War II

In 1935, ten year old Alex Maki, from Bainbridge Island, is disgusted when he's forced to become pen pals with Charlie Lévy of Paris, France--a girl. In spite of Alex's reluctance, their letters continue to fly across the Atlantic, along with the shared hopes and dreams of friendship. Until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the growing Nazi persecution of Jews force both young people to confront the darkest aspects of human nature. 

Beating Heart Baby

When artistic and sensitive Santi arrives at his new high school, everyone in the wildly talented marching band welcomes him with open arms. Everyone except for the prickly, proud musical prodigy Suwa, who doesn't think Santi has what it takes to be in the band.But Santi and Suwa share painful pasts, and when they open up to each other, a tentative friendship begins. And soon, that friendship turns into something more.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Poet Ocean Vuong's debut novel is a shattering portrait of a family, a first love, and the redemptive power of storytelling. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born -- a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam -- and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. 

Our Missing Hearts

Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. His mother Margaret, a Chinese American poet, left without a trace when he was nine years old. He doesn't know what happened to her--only that her books have been banned--and he resents that she cared more about her work than about him.  One day, Bird receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, and soon he is pulled into a quest to find her.

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Peach State

Peach State has its origins in Atlanta, Georgia, the author's hometown and an emblematic city of the New South, a name that reflects the American region's invigoration in recent decades by immigration and a spirit of reinvention. Focused mainly on food and cooking, these poems explore the city's transformation from the mid-twentieth century to today, as seen and shaped by Chinese Americans.

Watch Streaming Videos from the SCC Library

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Bad Axe

Bad Axe captures a real-time portrait of a closely-knit Asian American family, living in rural Michigan during the 2020 pandemic, as they fight to keep their local restaurant and American dream alive. With rising racial tensions, the family uses their voice and must unite as they reckon with backlash from a divided community, white supremacists, and intergenerational trauma from Cambodia's "killing fields."

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Heather Haunani Giugni

Prolific Native Hawaiian producer Heather Haunani Giugni recounts her start in 1980’s male-dominated world of news, “If you were female and wanted to do something, you were ridiculed!” She left news to start the first woman-owned production company in Hawai‘i. She then developed the first television show produced by and about Native Hawaiians. She won a National Emmy for her nationally syndicated food and travel series for PBS, Family Ingredients and founded ‘Ulu’ulu, the official moving image archive for Hawai‘i.

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Anote's Ark

The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati (population: 100,000) is one of the most remote places on the planet, seemingly far-removed from the pressures of modern life. Yet it is one of the first countries that must confront the main existential dilemma of our time: imminent annihilation from sea-level rise. While Kiribati’s President Anote Tong races to find a way to protect his nation’s people and maintain their dignity, many Kiribati are already seeking safe harbour overseas. Set against the backdrop of international climate and human rights negotiations, Anote’s struggle to save his nation is intertwined with the extraordinary fate of Tiemeri, a young mother of six, who fights to migrate her family to New Zealand.

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Our Atoll Speaks: Ko Talatala Mai Tō Mātou Wenua

Award winning communal film poem about the vast environmental knowledge of Pukapuka/Nassau, an atoll in the Northern Group of the Cook Islands. This communal poem developed from interviews with Pukapukans from 2015-2017, interweaves with stunning images of land, sky, and sea. Climate change and rising sea levels is the biggest threat to our island futures. Conservation practices developed over thousands of years have something to teach. This short documentary provides a visual metaphor for indigenous climate knowledge from the perspective of the atoll and her people.

Library Databases For Researching Asian American & Pacific Islander Related Topics

Find articles, images, and more in these library databases. 

General Research Resources