Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM), observed annually in May, celebrates and pays tribute to the contributions that generations of Asian American and Pacific Islanders have made to American history, society and culture.
May is especially significant because on May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant, a 14-year-old boy named Nakahama Manjiro, arrived in the US, and on May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad, which was built in part by over 15,000 Chinese immigrants, was completed. AAPIHM originated in 1978 when it was passed as a singular week by Congress, designating it as the first week of May 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. President George H.W. Bush later issued Presidential Proclamation 6130 on May 7, 1990, making May 1990 the first Asian American Heritage Month, now known as AAPIHM. In 2021, a record 20 million Asian Americans were able to trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.