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University Libraries

Celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

By Ione T. Damasco

Join the University Libraries in celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, which is celebrated nationally throughout the month of May.

In 1992, Congress selected May to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Most of the workers laying the tracks of the railroad were Chinese immigrants.

Due to the challenges created by the pandemic, this year we are highlighting online resources that recognize the historical contributions of Asians and Pacific Americans here in the United States and showcase the contemporary accomplishments of communities who share Asian and/or Pacific Islander heritage.

On the U.S. government's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and are instrumental in its future success. Learn more here.

The DC APA Film Festival has been showcasing films made by Asian Americans for 20 years; this year the film festival is online. Support these filmmakers and watch their films free for the month of May.

SLAYSIAN is an online exhibition featuring contemporary Asian American artists. Curated by independent curator Jenny Lam, this exhibition features the work of 39 different artists, many for whom this is their first exhibition ever. Though the exhibition was to be held in a physical gallery in Chicago, the artists have adjusted to the pandemic and moved to a virtual space to showcase their work.

The Center for Asian American Media presents CAAMFest Online, a reimagined film festival experience featuring online film screenings, interactive panels, watch parties and house parties. This year’s theme is “Heritage at Home” and will run May 13-22.

For additional resources, including materials from the Libraries’ collections, please check out this research guide created by members of the University Libraries diversity and inclusion team.

— Ione T. Damasco, professor and director of information acquisition and organization, is chair of the University Libraries diversity and inclusion team.

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