Celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

By Kristina Schulz

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month — a celebration of people’s heritage as Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States (UD celebrates it in April while students are still on campus).

The term Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

Enacted by Congress in 1978, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month started out as a 10-day commemoration. A resolution was passed each year to keep the the commemorative week until 1990, when Congress expanded the resolution to observe the entire month of May. By 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 (PDF, 285 KB), which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

May was chosen to both mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in honor of the many Chinese immigrants who worked on the building of the railroad and to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants who came to the United States on May 7, 1843.

The following resources are available through Roesch Library and University Archives and Special Collections:

Roesch Library

A Tale for the Time Being  by Ruth Ozeki

"A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be." In Tokyo, 16-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who's lived more than a century. A diary is Nao's only solace — and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox  — possibly debris from the 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao's drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future. (Publisher)

Unaccustomed Earth  by Jhumpa Lahiri

Nilanjana Sudeshna "Jhumpa" Lahiri was born in London and brought up in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, by a mother who wanted to raise her children to be Indian. As such, Lahiri learned her Bengali heritage from an early age. In eight stories that take readers from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, Unaccustomed Earth explores the secrets and complexities lying at the heart of family life and relationships among sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. (Goodreads)

Everything I Never Told You  by Celeste Ng

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet.” So begins this debut novel about a Chinese American family in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, who are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue — in Marilyn's case, that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker; in James' case, that Lydia be popular at school with a busy social life, the center of every party. When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos. (Publisher)

Voices of Wisdom: Hawaiian Elders Speak  by M.J. Harden

It is a rare privilege to sit at the feet of Hawaii's elders — to hear their stories firsthand. Such wisdom and knowledge seldom passes beyond Hawaiian communities, but now, with this book, the expertise is available to all. Described by The Maui News as “a brilliant book of interviews with amazing photographs,” Voices of Wisdom explains Hawaiian culture through the lives of 24 Hawaiians who have led the Hawaiian cultural renaissance of recent decades in an effort to preserve the culture. (Goodreads)


The Red Pines  (New Day Films)

In 1942, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, wartime hysteria and racial prejudice led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to order people of Japanese ancestry to be detained in internment camps. The Red Pines is the first-person story of those who grew up feeling “different” even in peacetime; experienced group incarceration; and slowly regained lives and livelihoods.The film sets the incarceration in the larger context of the struggles of Japanese pioneers from 1908 to the present day. (Kanopy)

Island of Warriors  (America by the Numbers series, PBS)

Pacific Islanders serve in the U.S. military in disproportionately high numbers and have suffered the highest casualty rates in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The men and women of Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific, are U.S. citizens and serve in the military at a rate three times higher than the rest of the country. Learn why the island’s returning veterans say they can't get the health care they need. (Kanopy)

Ku Kanaka (Stand Tall): A Native Hawaiian Leader  (New Day Films)

This documentary, winner of the Grand Jury Award for Best Short Documentary at the Guam International Film Festival, profiles the late Kanalu Young, whose dive into shallow water at age 15 left him a quadriplegic. Angry and defiant, he began to change when he discovered an untold story of Hawaiian history that fires him up to become a leader of his people. “At long last, a portrait of both disability and native Hawaiian identity at the crux of political activism and cultural pride,” writes Katharina Heyer, associate professor of political science at the University of Hawaii. “This loving tribute to Kanalu Young is a must-see for any student of disability identity and a most welcome addition to my disability studies classroom.” (Kanopy)

University Archives and Special Collections

Primary sources in the University Archives and Special Collections reflect student life at the University of Dayton. Through exploring The Exponent, published by University of Dayton students from 1903 to 1965, researchers can uncover student life at the University from many different perspectives.

Walter Achiu (Simplified Chinese: 徐天杰), born Aug. 3, 1902, in Honolulu, Achiu was a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and the Marianist-run St. Louis College (now St. Louis School) in Honolulu. He attended the University of Dayton from 1922 to 1925 and played football for the University. He was the first person of East Asian descent to play in the National Football League and one of the first minorities to play in any major American professional sports league, preceding Jackie Robinson's entry to Major League Baseball by 20 years. He was elected into the University of Dayton Athletic Hall of Fame in 1974. He died March 21, 1989. Read about Achiu’s early playing career through The Exponent by visiting University Archives and Special Collections on the second floor of Albert Emanuel Hall. View his photo in eCommons.

— Kristina Schulz is the University Archivist.

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