Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is an annual celebration that recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. The effort to officially recognize AAPI heritage wasn’t easy, taking over 10 years to make it a permanent month-long celebration, which started in 1990.
We celebrate AAPI Heritage Month in May, and not by coincidence! May was chosen to commemorate the migration of the first immigrants from Japan to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to celebrate the completion of the transcontinental railroad by over 200,000 Asian immigrants on May 10, 1869.
Between 2000 and 2019, Asian Americans were the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the U.S., and now make up around 7 percent of the nation’s total population, according to Pew Research Center.
The theme for AAPI Heritage Month 2022 is “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.” The initiative encourages collaboration, development, diversity, transparency, and inclusion through leadership training of AAPIs.
Asian American and Pacific Islanders have enriched America’s history and made vital contributions to technology, business, culture, the arts, and sports – and there’s no doubt that they will continue to be instrumental in its future success!
Out of the considerable amount of AAPIs that have made an impact, here are two highlights:
Naomi Osaka is a Japanese professional tennis player, and one of the world’s most remarkable athletes. She has been ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association, is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles, and is a four-time Grand Slam singles champion. Off the courts, Naomi is an entrepreneur and fashion icon, continuing to inspire young people across the globe.
Scott D. Oki is a third-generation Japanese-American and the former senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Microsoft. He conceived and built Microsoft’s international operations, and within five years as vice-president, the company’s sales rose from $100 million to $1 billion. He is now a philanthropist, haiku writer, owns several golf courses, and serves on dozens of advisory boards for both for-profit and non-profit companies.