Generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have helped make America what it is today. Their histories recall bitter hardships and proud accomplishments, from the laborers who connected our coasts over one-and-a-half centuries ago, to the patriots who fought overseas while their families were interned at home, to the innovators and entrepreneurs who are driving our Nation’s economic growth in Silicon Valley and beyond. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month offer us an opportunity to celebrate the vast contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our Nation, reflect on the challenges still faced by Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and recommit to making the American Dream a reality for all.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders comprise many ethnicities and languages, and their myriad of achievements embody the American experience. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have started businesses, including some of our Nation’s most successful and dynamic enterprises. Asian American and Pacific Islander men and women are leaders in every aspect of American life to include government and industry, science and medicine, the arts and our Armed Forces, education and sports.
Asian Americans are rooted in more than 40 countries, from the Pacific Ocean to the Pacific rim; from the two most populous nations on earth, India and China (one, the largest democracy, the other, the largest communist state), to the 600 islands of
Micronesia, where just 110,000 people are scattered across an ocean expanse five times the size of France and to Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation and fourth most populous country, which, if we were to overlay its archipelago of 17,000 islands across the United States, would stretch from New York to California.
Today, some 16 million Americans claim Asian-Pacific heritage, and their personal histories are linked to one of the most diverse regions of the world where there is a unique blend of nationalities, cultures, languages, dialects, religions and ethnicities. America is the most diverse nation on earth, and Asian-Pacific Americans are certainly a microcosm of that national mix.
America is a nation of immigrants, not entirely, but largely a nation of immigrants who journeyed here from every corner of the globe in search of a better life. Their quests sought justice, equality, peace, freedom and in many cases, principles not available to them at home. Above all, it was the promise of opportunity that was most compelling.
Here are some of our favorite Asian Americans:
- Maya Lin, architect, designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Mimi So, jewelry designer
- Perry Chen, founder and CEO of Kickstarter
- Doo-Ri Chung, fashion designer
- Chloe Dao, fashion designer and winner of Project Runway (season 2)
- Diana Eng, fashion designer and contestant on Project Runway (season 2)
- Karenina Sunny Halim, model
- Chanel Iman, supermodel with Korean and African American descent
- Derek Lam, fashion designer
- Phillip Lim, fashion designer
- Jimmy Choo fashion designer and founder of Jimmy Choo Ltd
- Monique Lhuillier, fashion designer
- Josie Natori, fashion designer
- Kimora Lee Simmons, supermodel with Japanese and African American descent
- Peter Som, fashion designer
- Anna Sui, fashion designer
- Vivienne Tam, fashion designer
- Rafé Totengco, fashion designer
- Alexander Wang, fashion designer
- Vera Wang, fashion designer
- Cristeta Comerford, White House Executive Chef, won with Bobby Flay in an Iron Chef America challenge
- Nikki Haley, of Indian descent, is the governor of South Carolina and first Asian American woman governor.
- Bobby Jindal is an Indian American, currently serving as governor of Louisiana.
- Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California, first Asian/female/African American attorney general in the United States
- Ivana Hong – American gymnast
- Nathan Adrian – Gold Medalist Olympic Swimmer
- Jeremy Lin – guard for the Houston Rockets
- Kristi Yamaguchi won three national figureskating championships, two world titles, and the 1992 Olympic Gold medal.
- Kyla Ross – Olympic Gymnast Gold Medal winner