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Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month

The Department of Commerce is proud to join the nation in recognizing the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, also known as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI). Observed annually in May, AANHPI Heritage Month is a time to reflect upon and celebrate the remarkable role of the AANHPI community in our nation’s history.

The national theme for 2021 is: “Advancing Leaders Through Purpose Driven Service” in honor of leaders who are driven by purpose, understand they can make a difference by serving others, and are focused on a bigger mission to make the world a better place and to create a brighter future for everyone.

This heritage month originated in June 1977, when Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Mineta of California called upon the President to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. In October 1978, President Jimmy Carter expanded the observance as an annual celebration; and, 12 years later President George H.W. Bush extended the week-long celebration to a month.  The official designation of May as AAPI Heritage Month was signed into law in 1992.  The month of May was chosen to observe AAPI for a number of reasons, including to commemorate the first Japanese who came to the country in May of 1843, and to mark the May 1869 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad which involved the labor of many Chinese immigrants. The AANHPI community is made up of culturally and linguistically - diverse people, representing populations from many countries and islands.

Throughout the month of May, Commerce bureaus and offices will be hosting events designed to commemorate AANHPI Heritage Month. Your participation and support for these events is highly encouraged!

Program Manager: Laura Soria 


To read President Biden’s proclamation to the Nation honoring the history and achievements of Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islanders, please click here.