Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month/Older Americans Month

Fair Housing MonthUnleash the Power of Age is the theme for this year's Older Americans Month, previously known as “Senior Citizens Month” when established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. At that time, only 17 million Americans lived past the age of 65, and a third of those lived in poverty with few programs to help meet their needs.  In 1980, President Jimmy Carter's proclamation changed the name to Older Americans Month, marking May as a time to celebrate those aged 65 and older through ceremonies, events, and public recognition. Since its inception, every president has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking the nation to pay tribute to older persons in their communities.

This celebration shines light on the essential role older adults play in sharing their experiences, understanding, and knowledge with younger generations in a variety of meaningful ways, including in the workplace. As the average lifespan increases, so does the amount of years the average person works. By the end of 2002, workers in the labor force aged 55 to 64 increased to 62.9 percent, the highest level of the postwar era. Many employers have recognized the benefits of hiring older workers, and are utilizing the skills that they bring to the table—experience, knowledge, work ethic, and commitment. As the state agency charged with enforcing Missouri’s anti-discrimination laws, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights actively investigates complaints of age discrimination (ages 40-69) in the workplace and conducts training and outreach efforts to educate Missouri employees and employers on their rights and responsibilities under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

This year’s festivities acknowledge the value older adults continue to bring to Missouri communities through their dedicated involvement in social and faith groups, and service organizations.

Local agencies on aging in Missouri include the following:

Useful information for older Missourians and their families may be found by searching the following:

May is also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, first celebrated after Congress passed a law directing President Jimmy Carter to issue a proclamation designating the week beginning on May 4, 1979, as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. In 1990, Congress requested President George H.W. Bush issue a proclamation which expanded the observance from one week to a full month. In 1991, a law passed recognizing the significance of May 7 and May 10 in the history of Asian and Pacific Americans. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States, while on May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed. Chinese immigrants laid most of the western tracks, suffering many tragedies along the way, as accidents, avalanches, and explosions left more than 1,200 Chinese workers dead by the time the last ten miles of track was laid in less than 12 hours on the final day of construction. In 1992, Congress permanently designated May of each year as “Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month.”Asian-Pacific is a rather inclusive term that encompasses the greater Asian continent along with the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.  These three regions include well-known areas such as Fiji, New Guinea, Guam, New Zealand, Samoa, Easter Island, and the Hawaiian Islands.

To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Missouri:

For events throughout the country:

To learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States: