In June of 1977, U.S. Representatives
of New York and
of California introduced
to establish Asian Pacific Heritage Week, to be celebrated each year at the beginning of May. Hawaiian Senators Daniel Inouye and
introduced similar legislation in the Senate. The following year, President Jimmy Carter signed into law a joint resolution to establish the annual event, and the first celebration took place in May of 1979. In 1992, the month of May was designated by President George H.W. Bush as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The annual celebration honors the many contributions and accomplishments of Asian and Pacific-Island Americans.
Hiram Fong, one of Hawaii’s first two senators, became the first Asian Pacific American to serve in the U.S. Senate in 1959. Five others have followed in his historic footsteps:
of California (1977-1983); Spark Matsunaga (1977-1990), Daniel Inouye (1963-2012), and Daniel Akaka (1990-2013) all of Hawaii; and current senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.