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May is Asian American - Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Using Our Voices

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month - USDA 2021

May is Asian American - Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. AAPI Heritage commemoration was first proposed in 1977 to observe the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States (May 7, 1843), and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, constructed mainly by Chinese immigrant workers (May 10, 1869). In 1978, President Carter made it an annual week-long event and President George H.W. Bush extended the proclamation to include the entire month of May. 

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage MonthAn Asian American is a person having origins in any of the original peoples of East Asia, Southeast Asia, or South Asia, the Indian subcontinent (Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam).  A Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander is a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Oceania. Oceania is comprised of three major island groups: Polynesia (New Zealand, Easter Island, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands and French Polynesia), Micronesia (Guam, Palau, Marianas, Wake Island, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Melanesia (Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, West Papua, and New Guinea).  The term "Native Hawaiian" does not include individuals who are native to the State of Hawaii by virtue of being born there. 

For 2021, APANA - The Asian Pacific American Network in Agriculture - has selected the theme: "Using Our Voices: In the face of increasing anti-Asian bias, it is critical that we acknowledge and combat its roots in our society and in our workplaces. This month we look to highlight resilience of our community, our enduring public service for American agriculture, and the actions we can take to move forward at USDA."

The Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) has selected their theme for the observance of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May 2021 as Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service. This year's theme is the start of the new theme series for 2021-2024 highlighting FAPAC’s efforts in “Advancing Leaders”. 

“Too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying, waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake. They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated, and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed… The conversation we had today with the AAPI leaders, and that we’re hearing all across the country, is that hate and violence often hide in plain sight. And it’s often met with silence. That’s been true throughout our history, but that has to change — because our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act.” – President Joe Biden, March 19, 2021

Chinatown, San Francisco, California. Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Jon B. Lovelace Collect.

Census Quick Facts

  • 22.9 million - the Asian-American population of the United States in 2019.
  • 5.2 million - The estimated number of the Asian population of Chinese, except Taiwanese, descent in the United States in 2019. The Chinese (except Taiwanese) population was the largest Asian group, followed by Asian Indian (4.6 million), Filipino (4.2 million), Vietnamese (2.2 million), Korean (1.9 million) and Japanese (1.5 million) in 2019.
  • 1.6 million - The estimated number of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population of the United States in 2019.
  • 2.5% - The percentage of Asian alone-or-in-combination military veterans in 2019.

More Information


Julie Wright, AA/PI Special Emphasis Manager, at 340-692-9632 x107 or 340-626-0444

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