Celebrate Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

By on March 31, 2014
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The Office of Student Multicultural & Diversity Programs (SMDP) will host the last installment of  this year’s campus-wide observances of commemorative history and heritage months in April with the celebration Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Though actually celebrated in May, SMDP coordinates programs in April in order to suit the the Spring Semester schedule.

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month (AAPI) is a celebration of the culture, traditions, and history of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

Nearly 5% of the undergraduate population is of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage at UAB according to a student demographic report in the winter of 2012.

Like most commemorative months, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week.

On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.

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

SMDP has hosted a variety of history and heritage months during the inaugural year of their office. The office, along with several student organizations and departments, has sought to coordinate a medley of university-wide cultural celebrations “that are entertaining as well as educational and informative.”

AAPI month will have its kick-off Tuesday, April 1, at the Commons Concourse on the Green (the space between the Commons entrance the Blazer Hall RLC where the fountain lay) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be sponsored by the Multicultural Council and other organizations affiliated with Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.

“Food and drinks will be provided, as well as table displays from organizations letting students know what events will be held to celebrate that month,” states SMDP on their official description of the event.

Suey Park, the 23-year-old freelance writer and organizer behind the hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick, will be the month’s featured speaker, and the lecture/Q&A type discussion will be on the 17 of April. “An Evening with Suey Park” will occur at 7 p.m. that night in Education Building 230 and will focus on how social media can be used as a tool to advocate for and to promote social justice and awareness.

For more information,  visit uab.edu/diversity or email diversity@uab.edu.

Download the calendar hereapih-calendar.

*This article synthesizes information from asianpacificheritage.gov and UAB SMDP.

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