MCHR Diversity Spotlight – May 2022
Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
The month of May is recognized as Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in celebration of the achievements and contributions of these individuals in the United States. This year’s theme is Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration, a continuation of the "Advancing Leaders" series, which began in 2021. In 2022, Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration further highlights efforts in advancing leaders in the federal and D.C. governments.
A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Mariana Islands, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia), and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island).
Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.
The month of May was chosen 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. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
Unfortunately, there has been an increase in the number of discriminatory incidents involving people of Asian descent in the last year. The reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate reported there were nearly 3,800 incidents reported on in 2020, up from about 2,600 the year before.
For more information on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, please visit the Asian-Pacific Heritage Month website. For a more thorough history of Asian-pacific heritage month, please read this informative article by Kat Moon. To view the State of Missouri’s celebration, including a museum exhibit (details below), a video series, a feature interview, and additional resource links, visit the state’s celebration web page.
- Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care presents Navigating Grief. This singular event adult support group offers support, education, and coping strategies for grievers at least two months after their loss. This virtual event will take place via Zoom on May 9, 2022. For more information or to register, please contact Ann Elbert at 816-363-2600.
- The National Association of Asian American Professionals-Kansas City in partnership with ArtsKC presents “I Am…” Asian American Arts Residency Opening. This free event takes place on May 6, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. and kicks off a five-month interdisciplinary arts and professional development residency at the ArtsKC Gallery Space from May to September 2022. For more information, please visit the website.
- The Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City presents the 18th Annual Asian Chamber Awards Gala on May 19. The keynote speaker for this special event is BD Wong, award-winning actor, activist, and author. Also speaking is Honorary Chair Jennifer Schnack, Vice President of Employee Talent, Development & Experience for T-Mobile. Please visit online for more information or registration details.
- The Missouri State Museum is home to an exhibit showcasing information about the history of the observance and also explores the contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans to the United States. The exhibit is located at the west end of the Resources Hall in the Missouri State Museum, located on the first floor of the Missouri State Capitol, 201 W. Capitol, in Jefferson City.
- Rose Music Hall and Mizzou Asian American Association presents Lotus in Bloom: A Celebration of Local Asian American & Pacific Islanders. On May 7, come celebrate Asian Americans and Pacific slanders’ heritage at Rose Park. The full-day event will feature food vendors, music by several excellent musicians, and opportunities to learn about the culture of various groups of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Gates open at noon. Tickets are $10. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.
- The City of Springfield presents 2022 Southwest Missouri Senior Games. The Games will consist of Olympic-style events for athletes aged 50 years and up. This event will serve as preparation for the 2022 Missouri State Senior Games. Events begin May 18. The registration deadline has been extended until all spots are full. For more information or to register, please visit online.
Please join SLAAA, City Seniors, Inc., and Forth Mobility for their Older Americans’ Month SiLVERS Celebration. This event will take place on May 19 at 11 a.m. at City Seniors, Inc. Event coordinators will provide updates on the SiLVERS program to date, and attendees will be able to test ride all-electric Chevy Bolts. Light refreshments will be provided. For more information and to register, please visit the website.
Older Americans Month
The month of May is proclaimed “Older Americans Month” throughout the nation. The theme for 2022, Age My Way, gives all of us an opportunity to explore the many ways older adults can remain in and be involved with their communities. This Older Americans Month, the focus will be on how older adults can plan to stay in their homes and live independently in their communities for as long as possible.
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only seventeen million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty, and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”
Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since John F. Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.
For more information on this year’s theme, please visit the Administration for Community Living website. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to get involved or find out what they are doing to celebrate Older Americans Month. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has many resources for seniors available on its website.