From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Statement on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

April 29, 2004

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California released the following statement today in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which begins on Saturday, May 1:

"For centuries, America has been enriched by our diverse and rapidly growing Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and by the contributions that Native Hawaiians, Chamorros, and Samoans have made in their ancestral homelands. Since the 1700s, when Filipino immigrants settled in the Louisiana bayou and Chinese and Japanese immigrants worked the sugarcane fields of Hawaii, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have worked hard to call America their home.

"In the face of prejudice and poverty, internment and exclusion, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has always remained strong in spirit, proud of its heritage, and committed to making progress. Today, there are 11 million Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States, tracing roots to nearly 50 different countries and ethnic groups, each with distinct cultures, traditions, and histories.

“The achievement of the community demonstrates the critical role of civic participation in making the American Dream a reality. With more than 200 Asian American and Pacific Islanders running for elected office in the U.S. last year alone, the community's participation in politics ensures that its concerns are addressed at the highest levels of government.

This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we salute such pioneers as Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, who in 1903 became the first Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander to serve in Congress; Dilip Singh Saund, who in 1956 became the first Asian American elected to Congress; Hiram Leong Fong, who in 1959 became the first Asian American Senator; and my dear friend Patsy Mink, who in 1964 became the first Asian American woman elected to Congress.

"We also celebrate the political leadership of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders today. As the Leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, I am proud to work in the Democratic leadership with Congressman Robert Matsui of California, the highest ranking Asian American in congressional history. We are both proud to lead the only truly diverse caucus in the Congress, which includes our great Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Under the leadership of Congressman Mike Honda of California, CAPAC has promoted greater understanding in Congress of the concerns of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. CAPAC is fighting for educational opportunities for our children, for better access to health care including an end to minority health disparities, for real immigration reform, and to grow the economy and create good-paying jobs.

“This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we take pride in our history and the promise of our future and we rededicate ourselves to the fight to make the American Dream a reality for all."




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