Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

“In a time of destruction, create something.”

– Maxine Hong Kingston, Chinese American author

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! We invite you to join us, this month and every month, as we continue to promote and support our local AAPI-owned businesses.

What is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a month-long celebration of the transformative impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had on the history, culture, and commerce of the United States. May was chosen to celebrate AAPI Americans because it honors the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in May of 1843 as well as the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in May of 1869. This month, we encourage you to learn about the tribulations and triumphs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

1843 - The first Japanese Immigrants arrive in the United States 

1851 - The California Gold Rush brought an influx of Chinese immigrants to California 

1869 - The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed 
- primarily by Chinese immigrants

1957 - Dalip Saund of California becomes the first Asian American in Congress

1979 - President Jimmy Carter signs a bill declaring a week in the first 10 days of May to be Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week 

1992 - Congress designated and President H.W. Bush passed a bill to declare May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

The Role of Asian and Pacific Islander Owned Businesses in the U.S.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had a profound impact on the United States’ economy. In their 2019 Policy Agenda, the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE) reported that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders own 6.2% of all small businesses in the U.S. and employ over 3.5 million workers. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of nearly every small business owner in America. To fully understand the effects of this on AAPI businesses, the ACE conducted an online survey for AAPI business owners. From this survey, 85% of AAPI respondents reported that their business has been negatively impacted by the pandemic. It is essential, now more than ever, that we use our voices and actions to uplift and support these small business owners in our communities.

How You Can Help

As the past year has taught us, there is no progress without action. So, make sure you dedicate some time this month towards learning how you can uplift AAPI-owned businesses!

Here are a few ways to help you start showing your support:

  • Explore the history, traditions, and cultures of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States with PBS’ Asian Pacific Heritage Month Collection
  • Seek out AAPI-owned small businesses in your community and start shopping
  • Grab takeout at a local AAPI-owned restaurant and try other Asian/Pacific Islander cuisines you haven’t had before
  • Leave positive online reviews at the businesses you visit
  • Follow, engage with, and promote local AAPI-owned businesses on social media 
  • Spread the word and encourage your family and friends to celebrate the month with you
  • Make sure that you continue your support long after the month is over!

Asian American and Pacific Islander Owned Businesses to Support in Orange County and Inland Empire

Resources for Asian American and Pacific Islander Owned Businesses



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