CAPAC Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May 3, 2021

Washington, D.C. – May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which recognizes the history, contributions, and achievements of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. To commemorate this month-long celebration, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:

CAPAC Leadership

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community! AAPIs are one of the most diverse groups in the country with over 23 million people who represent more than 50 distinct ethnicities and dozens of different languages. And through our contributions, the AAPI community has continuously strengthened our nation as health care workers, entrepreneurs, scientists, teachers, military service members, artists, public servants, and more. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I want to celebrate the AAPI trailblazers who opened doors for the rest of us and helped propel our country forward. From Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole’s efforts to pass the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, to Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz’s fight to ensure American farmworkers have labor rights, to Vice President Kamala Harris’s trailblazing journey to the White House as the first woman, Asian American, and Black Vice President, these AAPIs changed the course of American history for the better and should be celebrated.

“As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am committed to addressing the needs and concerns of the AAPI community as we continue to face new challenges. With an alarming rise in violent anti-Asian attacks throughout the pandemic, championing AAPI representation is more important than ever. And thanks to President Biden, our calls for more representation are being heard at the highest level. The President has made several historical appointments, elevating more AAPIs to senior positions in our government. And in Congress, we are working to pass landmark legislation to address anti-Asian hate crimes that will be sent to the President’s desk this month. But we cannot eradicate hate alone. That’s why it is imperative that we stand united in the face of bigotry and uplift our vibrant AAPI communities.

“AAPIs are the fastest-growing group in the country and, after years of being invisible, the needs and experiences of our community are finally being recognized from Hollywood to the Oval Office. As we celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our diverse community and honor AAPI trailblazers who paved the way for many of us today, I will continue to be a strong voice for the AAPI community as we work to build a brighter future for generations to come.”

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):

During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, in Hawaii and across the country, we celebrate the vibrant history, culture, and traditions of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. But this year, as we again observe APAHM amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing attacks against AAPIs remind us of the need to fight for a more inclusive and equitable society. I join my CAPAC colleagues in recognizing the immense contributions of AAPIs throughout American history, and in advocating for policies that support the AAPI community.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:

“This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is unlike any other APAHM we’ve celebrated. While this month is normally a time to celebrate and reflect on the numerous and outstanding contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made throughout our nation’s history, this year, it is filled with heartache, grief, and fear; but it is also filled with energy and fire for our community to come together stronger, united, and backed by allyship.

“Since as far back as the 1700s, AAPIs have shaped our infrastructure, built our economy, transformed our culture, and fought to ensure our nation lives out its founding principle, that all individuals are created equal. The legacies of AAPIs have continued to shine despite the struggles against institutionalized discrimination. And yet, generations of Americans in this country have never received a complete teaching of our American history. From the Page Act of 1875, that paved the way for the Chinese Exclusion Act, to the Japanese American Internment, to anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents during COVID-19, AAPIs have faced generations of discrimination and hate. In order to build a brighter future where all can have a piece of the American Dream, we have to learn from our shared history. That is why I have introduced a bill that would promote the teaching and learning of Asian and Pacific American history in K-12 schools across our nation. We can’t focus on tearing down the walls of biases and discrimination until our kids have a full teaching of what American history truly is.

“And so, for this year’s APAHM – it cannot be like all other times we’ve celebrated; instead, let it be a clarion call for our community and our allies to shout out that anti-Asian hate is unequivocally wrong.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:

“Each May, we have an opportunity to honor and celebrate the contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Our accomplishments and struggles are intertwined in the fabric of this country and have helped make it what it is today. History has shown us that in the face of adversity, the AAPI community remains strong-willed and resilient. This year, we celebrate during a time when there is increased hate and discrimination targeting our neighbors, friends, and loved ones. We will not be silent in the face of this hate. We will demand justice, we will fight back against discrimination, and we will live boldly and celebrate who we are. This last year has been painful for our community, but we must continue to look forward and fight on for a brighter future.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:

“Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! This month, we celebrate the rich history, culture, and traditions that AAPIs have shared with our nation. While we honor the contributions of the AAPI community, we recognize the incredible challenges facing our community today. According a new Pew study, 1 in 3 Asian Americans currently fear threats and violence. This statistic is heartbreaking, but not surprising. Every day, Asian Americans are facing verbal attacks, threats, and physical assaults in a time when discrimination against our community is heightened. The hate must stop. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, as we raise awareness around AAPI hate, I hope we can also focus on the monumental  achievements of the AAPI community and celebrate all that they add to the diverse fabric of our nation.”

Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02), CAPAC Freshmen Representative:

“During the month of May, we celebrate the long history and achievements of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders across the United States. Today, I join my CAPAC colleagues in wishing America a very happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Further, as a Native Hawaiian member of Congress, I applaud President Biden for explicitly naming Native Hawaiians in his Heritage Month proclamation for the first time in our nation’s history. Although Native Hawaiians are one of the many peoples of the Pacific Islands, Native Hawaiians are unique and have a special legal, political and trust relationship with the United States and should be recognized as such. The President’s proclamation sends a strong message that words matter and representation is essential in celebrating our identity.”

CAPAC Executive Board Members

Congressman Ed Case (HI-01):

“Aloha! As the very proud U.S. Representative of a district and state with one of the largest percentages of Americans who trace their heritage to Asia and the Pacific, I am truly honored to join my colleagues in commemorating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. This month we again pause to honor and respect the great accomplishments and contributions of Americans of Asian and Pacific descent down through our centuries. You deserve our heartfelt gratitude for all you have done to make our nation the envy of the world.”

Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34):

“California’s 34th Congressional District is home to many diverse communities and thousands of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who make our district one of the most unique in the country. Each day, as I go to work for my constituents in Koreatown, Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Little Tokyo, and more, I’m honored to fight hard as their representative in Congress. As we begin Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I stand with my colleagues to honor the endless contributions of AAPI communities nationwide and to reject the vitriol and racism that too many of our AAPI neighbors have endured during this pandemic.”

Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03):

There has never been a more important Asian Pacific American Heritage Month than the one we’re celebrating right now. It’s important for those of us in the AAPI community to be seen and heard during this time of hate and division. It’s important for those who aren’t in the AAPI community to listen and be a part of finding solutions. And it’s important to show the next generation – young people like my two baby boys – that we’re dedicated here and now to making a future where they’re not seen as an ‘other’, but just as American as anyone else. We can take a big step in showing how important this month is by passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act through the House and send it to President Biden’s desk immediately. We can’t afford to be silent or fail, and I look forward to working with my CAPAC colleagues in the coming weeks to get the job done.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):

“I’m proud to join my colleagues and communities across the country in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month to commemorate the history and contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. We must also take this opportunity to recommit addressing the challenges facing the AAPI community from the COVID-19 pandemic to the tragic violence in communities across the country this past year. Let us continue our fight to support the AAPI community.”

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10):

“During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we honor members of the AAPI community, both past and present, that continue to shape our nation and culture. This year’s heritage month comes at a time when anti-AAPI violence and hate crimes are at an all-time high, underscoring the importance of teaching AAPI history and contributions. Let us continue to find the strength and solidarity we need to end hatred against the AAPI community to build a stronger, more inclusive society for all.”

CAPAC Associate Members

Congressman Colin Allred (TX-32):

“May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time to recognize the rich culture and contributions the Asian Pacific American community has made to our country and to North Texas. Diversity is our strength, and as we celebrate this month, we must also recommit to the fight against hatred and bigotry which has increased in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud to represent a district that is home to so many people of so many different cultures and backgrounds, and I will continue to advocate on their behalf in Congress.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-07):

“As May begins, we celebrate the start of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This past year has been particularly challenging for AAPI communities, but the truth has never been clearer: our diversity is our strength. I am privileged and grateful to represent strong, diverse, and amazing AAPI communities in Georgia’s 7th District and I look forward to celebrating the critical contributions they have made to our country, this month and every month.”

Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05):

“Every year, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by recognizing the rich history, culture, and traditions the AAPI community has shared with us. This year in particular, we also acknowledge the disturbing rise in anti-Asian hate in the United States during this pandemic and recognize the history of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that has always existed in this country. We must recommit ourselves to not only combatting discrimination in all its forms, but also uplifting the joy and strength that define the AAPI community.”

Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18):

“This month we recognize Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the AAPI communities and their contributions to our country. In California’s 18th Congressional District, we are blessed to have one of the largest AAPI communities in the nation. And while we uplift their culture and history, we must also acknowledge the wave of hate and xenophobia toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders brought on by this pandemic. That’s why I’m committed to passing legislation that will ensure those who commit hate crimes are prosecuted fully under the law. We must not forget: Our diversity is our strength, and unity is our power. This month and every month, I stand proudly with the AAPI community.”

Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-04):

“I’m proud to join my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This month gives us an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the achievements of Nevada’s Asian Pacific American families, who have led the way as small business owners, essential workers, community leaders, and so much more. As we rebuild our nation from the struggles of the past year, I’m excited to continue CAPAC’s work to promote diversity, stamp out hate, and ensure an inclusive recovery for all.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12):

“Today, I join the AAPI community across NY-12 and the country in celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This year, as we celebrate and honor the rich history, heritage, and contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, we must redouble our efforts against the violence and hate our AAPI neighbors are experiencing. Asian Americans have been attacked and harassed because of misinformation and xenophobia that wrongly blamed them for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am encouraged by the Senate’s overwhelmingly bipartisan vote to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and will be voting for it when it comes to the House floor this month. I thank Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Meng for their leadership in Washington, DC on this legislation and commend the advocacy of the AAPI community and allies across the country for making it clear we will not abide racism and bigotry.”

Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32):

“I am very proud to represent a diverse, hard-working, and growing AAPI community in Congress, whose daily contributions improve life for all San Gabriel Valley residents. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, let us not forget that hate crimes are still occurring, compounding the fear and trauma felt by our AAPI neighbors, friends, and colleagues. We must overcome this bigotry with solidarity to support one another.

“I invite everyone to continue to reject anti-Asian hate and take time this month to highlight the countless accomplishments by the AAPI community, affirming the vital role it continues to play in moving our nation forward.”

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45):

“As we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, I'm thinking about how fortunate we are in California to be enriched by such a thriving and diverse Asian community. I'm grateful for our AAPI friends, neighbors, and colleagues who make Orange County a better place for us all. I remain deeply disturbed by the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic. No one should be targeted because of their heritage. I'll continue standing in solidarity with our AAPI neighbors and speaking out against ignorance and bigotry.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):

“This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I am proud to celebrate the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and its contributions to our country. Washington’s 9th District is made better and stronger by its diversity and inclusion, and we recognize the invaluable contributions from the AAPI community. However, we must also support them through challenges they face as well – hate crimes and racism since the start of the coronavirus pandemic has skyrocketed and it’s incumbent upon all of us to combat xenophobia and discrimination unjustly directed at the AAPI community. As we reflect upon their positive impacts this month, we celebrate the diversity within the AAPI community, recognize the struggles the community continues to face, and will work to support their continued success.”