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For the first time, Missouri is designating the month of May to honor the contributions of Asian/Pacific Americans.

In 1978, a week-long celebration started honoring the achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush turned it into a month-long event.

On May 1, 2020, Gov. Mike Parson proclaimed May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month for the first time in our state’s history.

The designation is welcome but perhaps untimely only because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For our state’s first celebration of the event, we’re not able to celebrate with live events and with each other. But thanks to organizers — including the Missouri Department of Labor’s (DOLIR’s) Commission of Human Rights, the Missouri Office of Administration’s Office of Equal Opportunity, the Missouri Department of Revenue’s Diversity and Inclusion Employee Council and the Missouri Department of Economic Development — we can all take a virtual journey across Missouri without leaving our homes.

According to a news release, an interactive online newsletter highlights the rich and diverse Asian/Pacific American history in Missouri. With just a click, individuals can view information about local events, as well as stories, videos and articles.

“Asian/Pacific Americans have a rich heritage, over thousands of years old, which has shaped both the history of our country and this state while dramatically influencing our mutual success,” said DOLIR Director Anna Hui, who describes herself as a “proud Missourian of Chinese descent.”

“Missouri greatly benefits from the contributions of this diverse population and the many achievements of all its citizens. While many families are spending time together at home this month, this virtual tour of Missouri and its Asian/Pacific American history showcase are both enjoyable and educational.”

If you take the virtual tour, we promise you’ll learn some interesting things. Did you know, for instance, a Springfield restaurant owner who immigrated from China created cashew chicken in 1963? You can even get his recipe.

To learn more and to visit the virtual map, go to oa.mo.gov/asian-pacific-american-heritage-month-virtual-celebration.

We’re glad to see our state recognizing the important and lasting contributions Asian/Pacific Americans have made to our country since its infancy.

News Tribune

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