May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month across the United States, a time to celebrate the rich communities that contribute so much to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 population estimates, the Asian-American population in Massachusetts is 448,000, representing 6.6% of residents, with significant numbers in Quincy, Lowell, Malden, Lexington, Brookline, Cambridge, Burlington and Boston.
Massachusetts has an Asian-American Commission, a permanent body that works to recognize and highlight the vital contributions of Asian Americans to the social, cultural and political life of the Commonwealth.
On the travel front, Boston’s Logan International Airport has direct flights between Boston and Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul.
A number of events and activities celebrating the Asian Pacific American community are taking place in Massachusetts.
On February 1, Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn filed a “Resolution Recognizing the Contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and held a reception for local Asian-Americans at Boston City Council chambers.
“According to, 9.5% of Boston’s population and 6.9% of the Massachusetts population identify as Asian Americans,” notes the Resolution.
On Thursday, May 9, WGBH hosts its annual Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Celebration at WGBH Studios in Brighton. It features a live interview with the first-ever Asian American US Cabinet Secretary, Norman Mineta, featured in the PBS documentary, Norman Mineta and his Legacy: An American Story, airing Mon, May 20.
Additional participants include Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger, UMass Political Science Prof. Paul Watanabe, Henry L. Stimson Professor at Harvard Law School Mark Wu, WGBH President and CEO Jon Abbott and Liz Cheng, general manager of WGBH Television and the WORLD Channel.
Following the live broadcast, a dinner reception and a display in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. Local organizations Wah Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy will performance. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required.
The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem has one of the foremost collections of Asian art in North America. Among its exhibits:
Japanomania! Japanese Art Goes Global features PEM’s celebrated Japanese export art collection, from the arrival of Portuguese merchants in the 1500s through Japan’s emergence on the world stage in the late 19th century and beyond. It runs through January 2021.
In June, PEM opens a new exhibit, Kimsooja: Archive of Mind, an installation on the works of South Korean, multi-disciplinary conceptual artist. It runs through January 2020.
On May 29, the Boston Asian American Film Festival (BAAFF) presents Short Waves: Stories Shaping our Community, with locally made, community-driven films.