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Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: Home

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

In 1992, Congress designated May as Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month to:

  • Commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843
  • Mark the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad's completion on May 10, 1869. (The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.)

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrates the achievements, contributions, culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Local AAPI History:

Citizen 13660

A native of Riverside, Calif., and RCC alumnus Miné Okubo documented her life inside a temporary Bay Area detention center and the struggles and achievements of the Japanese and Japanese American community at a Utah concentration camp in her graphic novel Citizen 13660. With 197 pen-and-ink illustrations and poignantly written text, she illustrates life where she was incarcerated with thousands of other Japanese during World War II. It is the first book about a former prisoner's American concentration camp experience and has been a perennial bestseller used nationwide in college and university courses.

You can view Miné Okubo's artwork online and an exhibition of her work at the Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties in downtown Riverside.

Quiet Odyssey

Mary Paik Lee left her native country in 1905, traveling with her parents as a political refugee after Japan imposed control over Korea. Her father worked in the sugar plantations of Hawaii briefly before taking his family to California. They shared the poverty-stricken existence endured by thousands of Asian immigrants in the early twentieth century, working as farm laborers, cooks, janitors, and miners. Lee recounts racism on the playground and the ravages of mercury mining on her father's health, but also entrepreneurial successes and hardships surmounted with grace. . This award-winning book provides a compelling firsthand account of early Korean American history and continues to be an essential work in Asian American studies.

The House on Lemon Street

In 1915, Jukichi and Ken Harada purchased a house on Lemon Street in Riverside, California. Before the purchase, white neighbors objected because of the Haradas' Japanese ancestry, and the California Alien Land Law denied them real-estate ownership because they were not citizens. To bypass the law Mr. Harada bought the house in the names of his three youngest children, who were American-born citizens. Neighbors protested again, and the first Japanese American court test of the California Alien Land Law of 1913 - The People of California v. Jukichi Harada - was the result. Bringing this little-known story to light, The House on Lemon Street details the Haradas' decision to fight for the American dream.

Pachappa Camp

Through new research and materials, Edward T. Chang proves in Pachappa Camp: The First Koreatown in the United States that Dosan Ahn Chang Ho established the first Koreatown in Riverside, California in early 1905. Chang reveals the story of Pachappa Camp and its roots in the diasporic Korean community's independence movement efforts for their homeland during the early 1900s and in the lives of the residents. Long overlooked by historians, Pachappa Camp studies the creation of Pachappa Camp and its place in Korean and Korean American history, placing Korean Americans in Riverside at the forefront of the Korean American community's history.