The origins of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month date back to 1978, when Congress passed a resolution to honor the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to American society. The month of May was chosen because it marks the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which was largely built by Chinese immigrants, on May 10, 1869.
San Joaquin Valley has a rich history of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Japanese immigrants played a significant role in the development of the agricultural industry in the region, particularly in the cultivation of grapes and almonds. Filipino migrant workers also played an important role in the agricultural industry, working on farms and in canneries, and Stockton became known as “Little Manila” and had the largest population of Filipinos outside of the Philippines. In the 1960s and 1970s, Southeast Asian refugees arrived in San Joaquin Valley after fleeing war and persecution in their home countries.
Today, San Joaquin Valley is home to a diverse population of Asian American/Pacific Islanders, (AAPI) representing a variety of cultures, languages, and traditions. To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in San Joaquin County, check out books by and about AAPI individuals, try Filipino food at local favorite, Papa Urb’s, and make a point to support Asian-owned businesses.