The Metropolitan King County Council today recognized the heritage and contribution of all county residents of Asian Pacific Islander descent with the declaration of May as Asian Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month in King County.
“It is the full history of both inclusion and exclusion that is formative of the Asian Pacific Islander experience in King County and across the United States,” said Councilmember Kohl-Welles, who introduced today’s proclamation. “By replacing the word ‘American’ with ‘Islander’, we acknowledge all people of API descent, including those who aren’t necessarily citizens, but have sacrificed to make King County the inclusive, diverse, and culturally rich place that we strive to be.”
In the past, King County has observed Asian Pacific American Heritage month, but this is the first time the County will celebrate and recognize the significant contributions of people of API descent, regardless of where individuals may be in the immigration or naturalization process.
“As the proclamation states, King County’s strength can be attributed to the diversity of the cultures and traditions represented by our residents,” said Council Chair Joe McDermott. “This statement could not be truer of Asian Pacific Islanders who helped to build this country. Today’s proclamation honors this history.”
The majority of API’s living in Washington State reside within King County, which is the country’s 13th-largest and second-fastest growing county in the United States. API’s account for nearly half of King County’s population growth in the past ten years, and at 17 percent of the total population, compose the county’s largest minority group.
The Council recognized the hardships endured by API’s throughout history, including exclusionary laws surrounding housing, marriage, immigration, and naturalization, as well as the persisting gaps in achievement, opportunity, and accessibility to in-language services.
Despite the historical struggles and the contemporary challenges posed today, individuals of API descent have made significant contributions in every aspect of society, making King County one of the most vibrantly diverse, economically vital, and culturally rich regions in the United States.
The month of May became Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in 1990 and has been recognized as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the Washington State Legislature since 2000.
WHEREAS, much of King County’s strength, pride, and prestige can be attributed to the diversity of cultures and traditions represented by its residents; and
WHEREAS, King County is the nation’s second-fastest growing county, with nearly half the population growth over the past decade attributed to Asian Pacific Islanders, who compose the county’s largest ethnic minority group; and
WHEREAS, despite challenging situations, economic hardship, restrictive and exclusionary laws, pervasive racism, attacks on civil liberties and civil rights, and institutional barriers, Asian Pacific Islanders have continued to contribute to every major industry and profession in this region, playing an essential role in making King County one of the most vibrant and culturally rich regions in the United States; and
WHEREAS, residents of Asian Pacific Islander descent make valuable contributions to the cultural and economic vitality of society, regardless of citizenship or legal status in immigration or naturalization processes; and
WHEREAS, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a nationwide celebration and observance that honors the achievements of Asian Pacific Americans and recognizes their significant contributions; and
WHEREAS, schools, libraries, museums, historical societies, civic organizations, and governmental agencies throughout the county should strive to educate all people of the unique and diverse experiences of Asian Pacific Islanders; and
WHEREAS, Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month provides an opportunity to educate the public on the personal sacrifices and accomplishments made by people of Asian Pacific Islander descent in American history;
NOW, THEREFORE, we, the Metropolitan King County Council, proclaim the month of May 2016 as
ASIAN PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH
in King County and encourage all residents to join in this celebration and participate in the many festivities planned to recognize Asian Pacific Islander heritage.
DATED this twenty-third day of May, 2016.