In 1990, May was declared Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by Congress – a celebration 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 (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).
The declaration of a month-long celebration extended the original observance of just a week from May 4th to May 11th, signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. May was chosen to be AAPI Heritage Month for several historic reasons, particularly relating to the dates May 7th and May 10th. May 7, 1843 was recorded to be the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States. May 10, 1869, marks the day of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S., which was largely completed thanks to Chinese immigrants. You can learn more about the history of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month here and here.
As PILI celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we want to highlight several “Trailblazers of Justice” in the legal community. These pioneers changed the legal landscape for those in the AAPI community in Illinois and across the United States.
Learn more about Hong Yen Chang here.
Learn more about Emma Ping Lum here.
Learn more about Dalip Singh Saund here.
Learn more about Judge Sandra Otaka here.