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May is Jewish American Heritage Month, and it’s also Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

The Library of Congress hosts a collaborative website that explains more about the origins of the celebration:

Like most commemorative months, Asian-Pacific 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.

Several years ago, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society began an oral history project that includes an exploration of the contributions of Asian-Pacific Americans in Congress. The Yielding the Floor series includes interviews with Sen. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Rep. Michael Makato Honda (California), Congressional Delegate Eni F. H. Faleomavaega (American Samoa), Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (Hawaii), Rep. Doris O. Matsui (California), and Norman Yoshio Mineta, who represented California in the House before serving as Secretary of Commerce and then Secretary of Transportation.

Both videos and transcripts are available on the USCHS website. Use the drop-down menu to select the interview you wish to explore. Several of the members discuss their experiences during WWII, including their participation in the armed services and their time in the internment camps. Other topics include the members’ journeys to Congress, memorable legislation, mentors, and partisanship in Congress.

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