Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month recognizes, celebrates, and increases awareness of the rich history, contributions, and accomplishments of Asian Americans and Pacific Island Americans. While celebrated nationally in May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Month is celebrated in April at UNC Pembroke.

About Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asia-Pacific is a vast land area with rich and diverse cultural communities that are thousands of years old. The geographical area encompasses the Asian continent, including the area between Afghanistan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Korea, Japan, and parts of Russia, 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).

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States traces its roots to 1977 when Congressman Frank Horton of New York introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives to proclaim the first ten day of May as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week. U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii introduced a similar resolution in the U.S. Senate. In 1978, Representative Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 1007. The joint resolution passed the U.S. House and Senate and was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978 to become Public Law 95-419. The law authorized the president to issue a proclamation designating the seven-day period beginning on May 4, 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.

The month of May was chosen to recognize the emigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843 and mark the anniversary of the completion of transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Chinese immigrants comprised the majority of the workers who laid tracks to complete the railroad.

In 1990, Congress passed Public Law 101-283 which expanded the observance from one week to a month. Two years later, in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.


Events at UNC Pembroke

  • March 26, 2021: Holi Fest at 6 p.m. Learn more by visiting
  • April 20, 2021: Tommy Lee Woon will discuss historical and contemporary violence against Asians in the United States at 3 p.m. During his 90-minute presentation and discussion, Woon will provide a personal and intimate view of early physical and political violence against Chinese who were excluded and lived in fear as illegals from 1875 to 1943. He will also provide a brief history and analysis of the causes of anti-Asian violence and an antidote for anti-Asian racism and violence. The presentation is titled “Creating A World of Feeling and Seeing No Strange: An Antidote for Anti-Asian Racism and Violence.” Join the virtual presentation via WebEx at
  • More events coming soon!