May 20, 2020

Van Hollen, Hirono Introduce Resolution to Honor May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), along with more than 20 of their Senate colleagues, introduced a resolution in honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month this May, noting the significant contributions to our nation made by generations of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

The resolution recognizes noteworthy milestones for the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in 2020, including:

  • The 35th anniversary of the mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery of Ellison Shoji Onizuka, the first Asian American in space,
  • The 45th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the Southeast Asian diaspora to communities across the United States,
  • The 45th anniversary of the completion of the double-hulled voyaging canoe, Hokulea, marking the first traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe built in Hawaii in more than 600 years,
  • The 55th anniversary of the enactment of landmark legislation that reversed restrictive immigration policies against immigrants from Asia, and
  • The 110th anniversary of the establishment of Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay, California, which served as a major port of entry for immigrants coming to the United States from Asia and the Pacific. 

“This month, we recognize the importance of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific American individuals to our communities and our culture. The stories and contributions of these men and women are vast, and this is a time to celebrate and highlight them. But as the COVID-19 pandemic has ignited fear and hate in our country, we must also actively condemn the rise of anti-Asian racism and discrimination. It has no place in America and we must confront it directly,” said Senator Van Hollen. “I’m proud to stand alongside my colleagues in support of Asian American communities everywhere.”

“This year, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month falls during a pandemic that is testing the very fabric of our nation. Anti-Asian racism and attacks are on the rise, stoked by those in the highest levels of government. As we pay tribute to the achievements of generations of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, the recent surge in discrimination and hate crimes against the AAPI community demonstrates how much work must still be done to achieve full equality. I join my colleagues in celebrating the contributions of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, and advocating for the civil rights and equal treatment of all Americans,” Senator Hirono said.

“I’m pleased to honor the contributions that more than 22 million Asian American and Pacific Islanders have made to our country. It’s important to recognize this valuable heritage, especially now when racism related to the coronavirus is on the rise against Asian Americans. From civil rights activist Fred Korematsu to the wonderful acting and comedy of George Takei; from the dazzling figure skating of Michelle Kwan to the political mind of Patsy Mink, the first woman of color in Congress; from Pulitzer winner Viet Thanh Nguyen to the brilliant former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Asian Americans have broken barriers and raised the bar in fields as diverse as entertainment, sports, civil rights, science and literature,” Senator Feinstein said.

"As prejudice toward and violence against Asian Americans have tragically been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it’s as important as ever that we spend this Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month reflecting on the countless ways the AAPI community has shaped our nation’s history and take pride in the continued contributions of our children and our children’s children. As we celebrate our community this May, we should also look ahead and continue to work for progress for our community and ensure the American Dream remains within reach for all,” Senator Duckworth said.

“Asian Pacific Americans have made countless invaluable contributions to the American story,” said Senator Merkley. “This month, we not only celebrate their heritage and express our appreciation for those contributions, but reaffirm our commitment to combating prejudice and fighting for equality and opportunity for everyone.”

“During this Asian Pacific American Heritage month, I’m proud to celebrate the achievements of Nevada’s vibrant Asian American and Pacific Islander communities,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “From frontline health care workers to small business owners, from teachers to engineers, the AAPI community in the Silver State is continuing its long tradition of contributing to our state’s arts, politics, food, and economy—a tradition that dates back to the Chinese workers who endured discrimination and dangerous conditions to build the transcontinental railroad across Northern Nevada. AAPI Nevadans are integral to our state, and I’m doing all I can to ensure that Nevada remains a welcoming home for them.”

“This month, we honor and celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, leaders, and history, and the significant contributions they have made to our country. It is also a time we must recommit to fighting alongside AAPI communities to end the discrimination they continue to face,” Senator Warren said.

“Each year during the month of May, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month calls us to celebrate and reflect on the rich history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. These communities draw from an incredibly diverse range of cultures, languages, and religions that all come together to make the United States a more vibrant Nation,” said Senator Cardin. “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent more than just a demographic category. They are our neighbors and coworkers, our friends and family. They are small business owners and entrepreneurs who have helped transform our economy for the better. They are prize-winning scientists and researchers who have made countless discoveries that have advanced our knowledge. They are creative artists and performers who have captured our emotions and introduced us to innovative concepts. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent an essential pillar of the United States.”

The resolution is also cosponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).