Above photo: Many people joined together to celebrate at the Asian Cultural Festival last Saturday at Avalon Park in Orlando, Florida.
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
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.
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. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.
Communities celebrate the achievements and contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans with community festivals, government-sponsored activities and educational activities for students.
A list of events are available online.
18.2 million: The estimated number of U.S. residents in 2011 who were Asian, either alone or in combination with one or more additional races.
5.8 million: The Asian alone or in combination population in California in 2011. The state had the largest Asian population, followed by New York (1.7 million). The Asian alone-or-in-combination population represented 57 percent of the total population in Hawaii.
46: Percentage growth of the Asian alone or in combination population between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, which was more than any other major race group.
4 million: Number of Asians of Chinese, except Taiwanese, descent in the U.S. in 2011. The Chinese (except Taiwanese) population was the largest Asian group, followed by Filipinos (3.4 million), Asian Indians (3.2 million), Vietnamese (1.9 million), Koreans (1.7 million) and Japanese (1.3 million). These estimates represent the number of people who reported a specific detailed Asian group alone, as well as people who reported that detailed Asian group in combination with one or more other detailed Asian groups or another race(s).
$67,885: Median household income for the Asian alone population in 2011. Median household income differed greatly by Asian group.
12.8%: The poverty rate for the Asian alone population in 2011.
15.4: Percentage of single-race Asians without health insurance coverage in 2011.
50: The percentage of the Asian alone population 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education. This compared with 28.5 percent for all Americans 25 and older.
85.1: The percentage of the Asian alone population 25 and older who had at least a high school diploma. This is not statistically different from the percentage for the total population or the percentage of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander alone, 86 and 85 percent, respectively.
20.7: The percentage of the Asian alone population 25 and older who had a graduate (e.g., master’s) or professional degree. This compared with 10.6 percent for all Americans 25 and older.
589,000: The additional number of the Asian alone population who voted in the 2008 presidential election than in the 2004 election. All in all, 48 percent of Asians turned out to vote in 2008 — up 4 percentage points from 2004. A total of 3.4 million Asians voted.
1.5 million: Number of businesses owned by Asians in 2007, an increase of 40.4 percent from 2002.
$506 billion: Total receipts of businesses owned by Asians in 2007, up 54.9 percent from 2002.
44.7: Percentage of Asian-owned businesses that operated in repair and maintenance, personal and laundry services; professional, scientific and technical services; and retail trade in 2007.
About the author: Shally Wong earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida. She is currently the director of Global Media and the publisher of Asia Trend Magazine and the President of Chinese American Association of Central Florida.
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