UHart Celebrates APIDA Heritage Month

April 01, 2022
Submitted By: Office of Diversity and Community Engagement

Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American Heritage month (officially known as “Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month”) was the idea of former congressional staffer Jeanie Jew, who first approached Rep. Frank Horton about the idea of designating a month to recognize Asian Pacific Americans, following the United States’ bicentennial celebration in 1976. In June 1977, Horton and Rep. Norman Y. Mineta, introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian Pacific Heritage Week. A month later, a similar bill was introduced in the Senate by former U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga.

President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution for the celebration on Oct. 5, 1978. In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend Asian American Heritage Week to a month. On May 14, 1991, a public law was passed unanimously by congress and then signed by Bush, proclaiming May 1991 and May 1992 as Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month. By 1992, May was officially designated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen because it commemorates the migration of the first immigrants from Japan to the United States on May 7, 1843 and to celebrate the completion of the transcontinental railroad by over 20,0000 Asian immigrants on May 10, 1869. However, the first Asian immigrants arrived in the U.S. in 1587 when Filipinos first began migrating to California. Immigrants continued to come from the Asian continent and the Pacific Islands through 1920 when the first Samoans were documented in Hawaii.

While this heritage month is designated to May, we celebrate Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American (APIDA) Heritage month in April at the University of Hartford, in order to celebrate and honor these populations before finals week, the end of the semester, and commencement.

Why we use “APIDA”: stands for Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American, as a pan-ethnic classification that intentionally includes South Asians (Desi) as part of the community. There is a great diversity of identities and ethnicities encompassed under the APIDA umbrella, including East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander. This term ultimately includes all people of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander ancestry who trace their origins to the countries, states, jurisdictions and/or the diasporic communities of these geographic regions.

In recognition of the month, we encourage your engagement in the programs below and exploration of resources for further learning.


Belonging and Not: Invisible Asian Americans and the Bamboo Ceiling

  • Guest Speaker: Mr. Buck Gee
  • Date: April 13, 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Platform: Virtual via Zoom
  • Register online
  • View full details here.


Creating Visibility and Belonging for the APIDA Community: A Panel Discussion

  • Date: April 22, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Platform: In-person
  • Registration information coming soon

The APIDA Heritage Month programs listed above were developed by the APIDA Heritage Month Planning Committee, a volunteer committee comprised of staff and faculty members.




  • APIDA Waves - podcast that brings together educators within the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American community. They celebrate growing up APIDA, explore successes and challenges, and learn through the stories shared by guests.
  • AsianBossGirl - podcast for the modern day Asian American woman hosted by Melody Cheng, Helen Wu, & Janet Wang. They share experiences and explore topics as 20/30 something Asian American women working, dating, and living in LA, CA.
  • How Not to Travel - Born out of a desire to decolonize perceptions of exoticized travel destinations, this podcast covers an array of topics aimed to help people become better global citizens of a diverse society.



  • Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America by Vivek Bald
  • Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Tulusan
  • The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimène Suleyman
  • Homeland Elegies: A Novel by Ayad Akhtar
  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong – Summer Community Book Read selection
  • Not Quite Not White: Losing and Finding Race in America by Shamila Sen

APIDA Content Creators on Social Media


  • @haileyych
  • @owinpierson
  • @thedannyphantom


  • @amandangocnguyen
  • @georgehtakei

Questions, comments, or suggestions? Contact Christine Grant, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement (; 860-768-4220) and/or Lisa Coté, Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (; 860-768-4932)