The first documented Asian immigrants came to America in the mid-1800s and played a significant role in our rich history. However, that history is fraught with inequity and exclusion. A well-known example of this history is the unfortunate internment of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, 17,000 children under the age of 10 years. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the only immigration legislation to exclude an entire group based solely on their nationality.
In 1979, the first 10 days of May were chosen to celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage. This coincided with two significant milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.” In 1990, this was expanded to a month-long celebration, now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.