Asian and Pacific Islander Americans play a vital role in L.A. County and at L.A. Health Services that mirrors their contributions to the development, growth, and vibrancy of Southern California as a whole. Making up about 20 percent of the County’s workforce, our team members of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage are indispensable to our organization’s impact on the community.
Asian Americans’ roots in this country stretch back almost to its founding, but their contributions have historically been underappreciated. The first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States on May 7, 1843, and Golden Spike Day, on May 10, 1869, marked the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S., which had significant contributions from Chinese workers.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution that proclaimed the “7-day period beginning on May 4, 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.” Then in 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a bill expanding the celebration to the full month.
Now is an especially important time to highlight and celebrate Asian/Pacific Islander Americans’ contributions to the United States, since our AAPI communities have been targeted by an alarming escalation of hate crimes since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remembering the long and valuable history of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans can help combat the misinformation that leads to hate and violence, while celebrating diverse individuals’ unique part in our shared history.
This month, take a few moments to learn about the home countries of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, their contributions to U.S. History, and the ways AAPI communities enrich our lives.