Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

The story of the United States, and of New York City, is filled with contributions by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Through exploring documents related to the 1763 Filipino settlement in present day Louisiana, the development of Bengali communities in Harlem at the turn of the 20th century, and the many stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who fought for the expansion of a more just and democratic nation, we can begin to understand the significant and long term role that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played in our collective history. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month provides an opportunity for educators and students to reflect on this history, and integrate these stories into a renewed understanding of our American narrative. We encourage students, families, and educators to use the resources below to explore further and deepen their understanding of this history.

Library of Congress, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 

A web portal that is a collaborative project of the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This site includes a section for teachers with lesson plans, student activities, collection guides, and research aids related to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. 

National Archives, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 

A collection of primary and secondary sources from the National Archives and Records Administration documenting the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience. 

National Park Service, The Places of AAPI History 

Detailed guide to places that play an important role in Asian American and Pacific Islander history, such as Haiwai’i’s Huilua Fishpond, the Rohwer Relocation Center Memorial, the Hakone Historic District in California, the sailing ship Balclutha, and more. 

As the nation’s storyteller, the National Park Service strives to tell the stories of ordinary and extraordinary Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders preserved in our nation’s parks, memorials, and historic sites. 

Reading Material 

NYC Department of Education School Library System, Asian American/Pacific Islanders Collection 

A collection of 429 ebooks and 93 audiobooks for young people that honors and reflects on the significant contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans have made to the lives and culture of the United States. Available to NYCDOE students and teachers by logging into the Sora app with their NYCDOE credentials. Please visit discoversora.com/nyc for information on how to get started in Sora, including downloadable guides available in multiple languages and how-to videos. 

George Takei, They Called Us Enemy 

Available to NYCDOE students through Sora, actor, author, and activist George Takei’s graphic memoir of his time spent imprisoned in the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, developed with co-writers Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott and illustrator Harmony Becker. 

Time, 11 Moments from Asian American History That You Should Know 

This article provides a collection of eleven events from the long history of Asians and Asian Americans in the land that is now known as the United States of America, illustrating how Asians and Asian Americans have shaped the history of this country from the time before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Video and Audio Resources 

Graphic Texts in the Classroom: A Conversation with George Takei 

A conversation with actor, author, and activist George Takei, who was imprisoned as a child in Japanese American incarceration camps. In this video, Mr. Takei discusses his experiences in the camps, which he wrote about in his graphic memoir, They Called Us Enemy. This program was moderated by Brian Carlin from the NYC Department of Education Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Learning on March 23, 2022. 

Asia Society, Spotlight on Asian Pacific Americans: A Biography Series for Children and Families 

As part of Asia Society's Asian Americans Building America, The Center for Global Education has created a collection of mini-lessons to spark the curiosity of young learners by helping them to build a more inclusive understanding of American history by spotlighting inspiring Asian Pacific Americans and exploring their specific contributions to life in America.

PBS, Asian Americans 

A three-part video series telling the history of identity, contributions, and challenges experienced by Asian Americans. Additional resources connected to the documentary are available on the #DOCUHISTORY: Asian Americans page.

Events, Exhibitions, and other Learning Resources 

Asian American EDU, The Asian American Education Project 

Free curriculum materials for all grade levels created in partnership with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, Stanford University SPICE, and PBS LearningMedia to bring the history, contributions, challenges and triumphs of Asian Americans to students across the country. 

WNET, Mission US: Prisoner in My Homeland 

An immersive history simulation game that allows students to explore the challenges faced by a Japanese American teenager forced to move to a prison camp during World War II. Yuri, a group dedicated to producing educational materials through an Asian American lens, created supporting educational resources to use in conjunction with the game, available here.

Smithsonian Institute, Asian American Artists and Selected Works 

American artists of Asian heritage bring a combined legacy to their work, and varieties of Asian thought and spiritual practice have had a profound lasting influence on a remarkable number of Western artists. Influence has been a two-way street between contemporary American art practice and Asian cultures, past and present. 

Village Preservation Society, Asian American History in Greenwich Village & the East Village 

A guide to individuals, organizations, institutions, and events located in these NYC neighborhoods that played an important role in the story of Asian Americans in our city and country — especially (and unsurprisingly) in relation to civil rights and the arts.

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