Like most commemorative months, Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of culture and people, this month, specifically the Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the continent of Asia as well as the Pacific Islands surrounding. Originating in a congressional bill, Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California, in June 1977, introduced a House resolution that asked for the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.
May was selected to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843 and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, majority of the tracks were laid by Chinese immigrants.