MUCH like Black History Month

and Women’s History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month originated with a congressional bill. Two Representa­tives introduced the bill to the House of Representa­tives and two senators introduced the bill to the Sen­ate. Both of them passed, and U. S. President Jimmy Carter officially recognized Asian/Pacific Heritage Week on October 5, 1978. Several years later, in May 1990, President George H. W. Bush expanded it to a month, and designated it as Asian Pacific Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen in honor of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843 and also the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.

May is celebrated with community events that in­volve historical, educational, and cultural activities, and the recognition of famous Asian Americans in such fields as architecture, entertainment, athletics, educa­tion, art, and science. One historical period often dis­cussed in school curricula in May is the building of the first railroad that spanned the American continent. This railroad, largely built by Chinese immigrants, is con­sidered one of the crowning achievements of President Abraham Lincoln, even though it was completed four years after his death. To build the railroad, the Union Pacific Railroad began in Nebraska, and worked west­ward through Colorado and Wyoming to Utah. At the same time, the Central Pacific Railroad began in Cali­fornia, and moved eastward through Nevada to Utah, carving out places for railroad tracks in high mountain peaks. The two railroad companies met in the town of Promontary, Utah, where they drove in the final “gold­en spike” that brought together the east and west
coasts of the American continent. This feat revolution­ized the economy and population of the U. S. It caused the wagon trains to be obsolete, and affected com­merce, trade, and travel across the continent.


congressional: adj. of an elected group of representatives bill: n. a proposed law in government designate(d): v. to officially choose for a particular reason or purpose

transcontinental: adj. extending across a continent span(ned): v. to cross the length between two points largely: adv. mostly; almost completely crown(ing): adj. greatest

drive: v. to provide the power to make something happen; to pound in

spike: n. a narrow thin shape with a point on one end, usually metal

feat: n. an action that involves risk or difficulty wagon train: n. a group or line of vehicles with four wheels, pulled by animals

obsolete: adj. not in use anymore because something more modern has replaced it affect(ed): v. to cause to change



Joseph Rainey


Phyllis Wheately


Todd Duncan


William Carney



Updated: 18th July 2015 — 3:16 pm