From Assemblymember Phil Ting

Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

I hope you've been enjoying Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Of the 18 million AAPIs living in the United States, six million live in California. For more than a century, they've contributed to our country's success and influenced our culture.

This annual celebration is the result of one woman: Jeanie Jew, a former Capitol Hill staffer who first had the idea in the mid-1970s. For her, the designation was personal because her great-grandfather, M.Y. Lee, moved from China to the U.S. in the 1800s to help build the transcontinental railroad. Despite playing a key role in American history, he and other Chinese laborers were subjected to discrimination and acts of violence. Mr. Lee himself was killed during a period of unrest when anti-Asian sentiment was high.

This story motivated Ms. Jew, his great-daughter, to push for the recognition of AAPI contributions. She wanted these communities to not only know their heritage, but also for all Americans to know of their contributions. While she was successful in getting an Asian Pacific American Heritage Week designated beginning in 1978, it was eventually expanded to an entire month in 1992.

May was chosen for two reasons: the first known Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States in May 7, 1843; and the hard work of as many as 20,000 Chinese workers culminated in the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Since then, AAPIs accomplishments have touched almost every sector of American life. From health, technology, education, pop culture, cuisine and more, there's so much to celebrate.

There's still time to take in a few events. Like movies? CAAMFest 2023 is underway, presenting stories about the richness and diversity of the Asian American experiences. And who doesn't like food? Discover the flavors of the Pacific Rim by eating your way through the Excelsior District for the next week, using the Passport Program offered by Chow Fun. There's also the AAPI Fest this weekend in Daly City, where booths and entertainment will keep you busy for hours. A similar festival will be held in San Francisco's Chinatown next weekend. For other ideas, please visit a celebration guide:



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