Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month May 2013

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In This Issue

Photo Credit: Goucher
Photo Credit: Goucher

API History

1600s Filipinos and Chinese reach Mexico aboard Spanish galleons on trade route between Manila, Philippines and Acapulco, Mexico.

1700s Filipino seamen jump off of Spanish galleon ships and create towns in the Louisiana bayous.

1789 The first recorded Chinese in the Pacific Northwest arrive in Vancouver Island.

1790 The Naturalization Act of 1790 restricts U.S. citizenship to “free whites.”

1811 First Hawaiian laborers settle in Pacific Northwest.

1830s Chinese “sugar masters” work in Hawaii. Chinese sailors and peddlers arrive in New York.

1844 China and the U.S. sign first treaty-free immigration between the two nations.

1849 Gold is discovered in California. First wave of Chinese immigration to the U.S.

1852 First group of Chinese contract laborers land in Hawaii. Over 20,000 Chinese arrive in California. Chinese first appear in California court.

1865 Central Pacific Railroad Company recruits Chinese workers for construction of first transcontinental railroad.

1869 First transcontinental railroad is completed. Chinese workers lay an estimated 90% of the track. No official group photos of laborers include them. J.H. Schnell takes Japanese to California and establishes the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony.


The roots of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month can be traced back to 1976, when Jeanie Jew, president of the Organization of Chinese American Women, contacted government officials in response to the lack of Asian Pacific representation in the U.S. bicentennial celebrations that same year. The observance began in 1979 as Asian Heritage Week, established by congressional proclamation. In May 1990, the holiday was expanded further when President George Bush signed a proclamation making it month-long for that year. On October 23, 1992, Bush signed legislation designating May of every year Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen to commemorate two significant events in history: the immigration of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (Golden Spike Day). The diversity and common experiences of the many ethnic groups are celebrated during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with numerous community festivals as well as government-sponsored activities.

Jeanie Jew

Organization of Chinese American Women
Photo Credit: OCAW

“It was because of my grandfather’s story and stories that belong to everyone who have Chinese and Asian American parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents that shows that we have indeed contributed a great deal to the building of the United States.  But stories about the APA experience should not only be told to just me and [other APAs] but to all Americans, and that we should be part of the history of America because it is important that Americans understand our past, the importance of our presence, and how critical we are to the future of America”

~Jeanie Jew, President
Organization of Chinese American Women

Learn more


The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance is a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander organizations.  NQAPIA seeks to build the capacity of local LGBT AAPI organizations, invigorate grassroots organizing, develop leadership, and challenge homophobia, racism, and anti-immigrant bias.  NQAPIA is a project of the Tides Center.

May_APAHMWho Are Asian Pacific Americans?

Asian Pacific American is a political term that attempts to give expression to cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity while recognizing common historical experiences in American history. Asian Pacific Americans include many ethnic groups with diverse backgrounds, histories, languages and cultures. The significance of this month can only be understood by recognizing the progression and convergence of the many diverse groups that make up the Asian Pacific American community, which includes Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, Korean Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Asian Indian Americans, Filipino Americans, Cambodian Americans, Hmong Americans, Laotian Americans, Hawaiian Americans, Samoan Americans and Thai Americans, to name a few. The month of May is set aside to celebrate the collective accomplishments of these communities.


For Teachers and Students

Asia Society

Books on the Asian American Experience

National Education Association: Asian Pacific Islanders Asian Pacific Islanders

Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng

Author, Seminary Professor, Theologian, Attorney, and Ordained Minister

Zerby-Cheng1Rev. Dr. Patrick  Cheng teaches at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, and contributes to the Religion and the Gay Voices sections of the Huffington Post.

He is the author of Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology (2011), an accessible introduction to queer theology,  From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ (2012), which rethinks the doctrines of sin and grace for LGBT people and our allies today and a new book, Rainbow Theology: Bridging Race, Sexuality, and Spirit.  It will be released in April 2013, and it will be the first book-length treatment of theologies by LGBT people of color.



QAS E-Zine

Rainbow Theology Bridging Race, Sexuality, and Spirit The first book to explore the theologies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of color. Video Introduction

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Rev. Boon Lin Ngeo

Author, Theologian, Journalist, Professor and Ordained Minister

Rev. Boon Lin Ngeo is Chinese-Malaysian born. He is better known as O.Young (Rev. Ouyang Wen Feng) in Chinese speaking communities in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and his home country, Malaysia. He is an ordained Christian minister at MCC New York. Rev. Boon was an award-winning journalist in Malaysia before he came to the United States. In 2006 he was the first public figure to come out publicly in his country. He is also a co-founder of MCC in Malaysia and he holds two Master’s degrees in sociology and theology. He lives in New York city and teaches sociology at St. Peter’s College in New Jersey and Gender studies at Hunter College. In Fall 2009, he was invited to teach LGBTQ Studies and Sociology, the first course of its kind offered at the Jesuit college. He is a best selling author and has published 24 books in sociology, theology and sexuality. He is a columnist for the Sinchew Daily, the leading Chinese newspaper in Malaysia.  He is currently finishing his doctoral degrees in sociology and theology.


Cultural Arts 
photo credit: MTV

Center for Asian American Media

The National Register of Historic Places

Yellow Rage: SpokenWordPoetry

Chinese immigration and the Transcontinental railroad


Rev. Stedney Phillips 

Motivational Speaker, Church Size Theorist, Liturgist, Lecturer and Ordained Minister

Rev. Stedney Phillips serves on the denominational staff of Metropolitan Community Churches as a Church Life Specialist for the Office of Church Life and Health.  In this role she offers her expertise in Church Size Theory and Assessments, Interim Ministry and Blended Worship Development. She also serves as Chair of MCC’s Asian Pacific Initiative Team. Stedney was ordained by MCC in December 2009 following her graduation from Pacific School of Religion. Prior to her ordination, she served as an Intentional Interim Pastoral Leader for 2 ½ years and has served MCC in various areas of local, regional and denominational work. She has served in various roles within MCC for over 25 years.  Rev. Stedney resides in Long Beach, CA and has a daughter, Hannah.

napihad200719 May National Asian Pacific HIV/AIDS Day

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The Banyan Tree Project National Institute of Health

Get Tested: To find a testing site near you, text your ZIP Code to KNOW IT

Rev. George Balgan

Chaplain, Justice Activist, Motivational Speaker, Community Activist and Ordained Minister
BalganRev. George completed was ordained into ministry in 2006 and has been on staff at MCC Las Vegas. He started and leads the outreach to the Latino community and leads a bilingual service which has grown from 6 to 100 congregants. Together with other community leaders in the Latino community, he started the group Conciencia, which promotes HIV awareness and testing especially in the Latino community, and holds the annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day in Las Vegas. He has now started an outreach to the Filipino community. Rev. George is also the main pastor in charge of congregational care in MCC Las Vegas..