Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

This month, the City of Bowie pays homage and celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month. Throughout the month of May and every day let us strive to honor and commemorate the contributions made by the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community. 


Yo-Yo MaYo Yo Ma 2

Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture’s role in society, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Yo-Yo strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity.

Yo-Yo was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and three years later moved with his family to New York City, where he continued his cello studies with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. After his conservatory training, he sought out a liberal arts education, graduating from Harvard in 1976. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006), the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), Kennedy Center Honors (2011), the Polar Music Prize (2012), and the J. Paul Getty Medal Award (2016). He has performed for nine American presidents, most recently on the occasion of President Biden’s inauguration.

Steven Chen (co-founder of YouTube)Steven Chen 2

Born in August 1978 in Taipei, Taiwan, Steve Chen is an American entrepreneur who co-launched the video-sharing website YouTube in 2005. YouTube ranked as the 10th most popular website a year after its launch. Chen, YouTube’s chief technology officer, was named to 2006’s “The 50 People Who Matter Now” list by Business 2.0 magazine. That same year, Google bought YouTube for $1.64 billion in stock.

Internet entrepreneur, co-founder of YouTube. Born in August 1978 in Taiwan. Raised in Taiwan, Chen and his family immigrated to the United States when he was 15.

After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Chen worked at PayPal, where he met Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim. In 2005, the three founded YouTube, a website designed to simplify video sharing online.

YouTube quickly became one of the web's fastest-growing sites, and was ranked as the 10th most popular website just a year after its launch. There are reportedly 100 million clips viewed daily on YouTube, with an additional 65,000 new videos uploaded every 24 hours.

Josephine Santiago-Bond (NASA Advanced Engineering Development Branch leader)Josephine Santiago-Bond 2

Josephine Santiago-Bond didn’t grow up wanting to work for NASA. Having grown up in the Philippines, NASA was half a world away, and was something she had only read about in history books. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Electronics & Communications Engineering from the University of Philippines, she took some time off and explored the job market in the U.S. She landed her first  engineering job designing sport products and was accepted into the master’s degree in electrical engineering program at South Dakota State University.

After a summer internship at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center—she was hooked. She had fallen in love with the passion of her colleagues and the exciting mission of the agency. She started working for NASA full-time in 2004. Since joining NASA, she’s contributed to the design of new technologies, space shuttle ground system operations, the Constellation subsystems design, and worked on several lunar missions. Josephine says that NASA has given her the opportunities she needed grow as an engineer—evolving from an electronics engineer into a systems engineer—and as a leader. She currently serves as the chief of the advanced engineering development branch and manages a group of engineers across many disciplines.

Tammy Duckworth 2Tammy Duckworth (U.S. senator)

Ladda Tammy Duckworth was born on March 12, 1968, in Bangkok, Thailand, to a mother of Chinese heritage and a father of British descent. Because her father did refugee work for the United Nations, Duckworth's childhood took place against varied backdrops — spanning Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia and Hawaii. 

Duckworth, along with her mother, Lamai, and her father, Franklin, moved to Hawaii as a teenager. After high school, Duckworth earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Hawaii. Afterward, she obtained her Master of Arts in international affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. In pursuit of yet more higher education, Duckworth then relocated to Illinois, where she enrolled in a political science Ph.D. program at Northern Illinois University.

Tammy Duckworth was deployed to serve in the Iraq War in 2004 and lost both of her legs when her helicopter was struck. Duckworth became director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs in 2006, and three years later President Barack Obama appointed her assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2012, she was elected to Congress, representing Illinois’ 8th District. Four years later, she was elected a U.S. senator, thereby becoming the first disabled woman and the second Asian American woman in the Senate. In April 2018, Duckworth became the first female senator to give birth while holding office.

Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink (first woman of color in Congress)Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink

Patsy Mink grew up in Hawaii and experienced racial and gender discrimination throughout her life. In 1964, she won election to the U.S. House of Representatives and she used her position in government to create legislation aimed at eliminating barriers for the generations that followed her. Mink died in September 2002. It was too late to remove her name from the ballot in the upcoming congressional election, and she won a resounding posthumous victory in November.

Mink was born Patsy Matsu Takemoto in Paia, Maui, Hawaii Territory, on December 6, 1927, to Suematsu Takemoto and Mitama Tateyama Takemoto. Both sets of her grandparents had left Japan to work on sugar plantations in Hawaii, making Mink a third-generation Japanese American.

Mink grew up on the island of Maui, where she witnessed segregation between white plantation bosses and Japanese American and native Hawaiian workers. She had a brother, Eugene Takemoto. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, many Japanese Americans on Hawaii were arrested; Mink's father was questioned by authorities but was released.

In 1956, Mink was elected to Hawaii's territorial House of Representatives. Two years later, she won election to the territorial senate. After Hawaii became a state in 1959, Mink unsuccessfully ran for Congress. She then won a seat in the Hawaii state senate in 1962.

In 1964, Mink was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She achieved this despite receiving no local party support, a recurring obstacle in her career. When she was sworn in she became the first Asian American woman, the first woman of color, and the second woman from Hawaii to serve in Congress.

Vera Wang (fashion designer)Vera Wang 2

Vera Ellen Wang was born on June 27, 1949, in New York City, New York. The daughter of affluent Chinese immigrants, Wang enjoyed a privileged childhood growing up on Manhattan's Upper East Side. She attended the elite Chapin School and the School of American Ballet, before enrolling at Sarah Lawrence College. During her sophomore year, Wang briefly studied abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris but returned to the United States to complete her degree in art history.

Vera Wang was a senior fashion editor at Vogue for 15 years and then a design director for Ralph Lauren. After designing her own wedding dress, she opened a bridal boutique and soon launched her own signature collection. Now hugely popular, she has a large Hollywood following and also designs lingerie, jewelry and home products. Known for balancing modern designs with traditional elegance, Vera Wang is one of the most prominent bridal wear designers in America.

Tiger Woods (PGA golfer)Tiger Woods 2

Tiger Woods, byname of Eldrick Woods, (born December 30, 1975, Cypress, California, U.S.), American golfer who enjoyed one of the greatest amateur careers in the history of the game and became the dominant player on the professional circuit in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1997 Woods became the first golfer of either African American or Asian descent to win the Masters Tournament, one of the most prestigious events in the sport. With his victory at the 2001 Masters, Woods became the first player to win consecutively the four major tournaments of golf—the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open (Open Championship), and the PGA Championship. Woods was the child of an African American father and a Thai mother. A naturally gifted player, he took up golfing at a very young age and soon became a prodigy, taking swings on a television program when he was two years old and shooting a 48 over nine holes at age three. In 1991, at age 15, he became the youngest winner of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship; he also captured the 1992 and 1993 Junior Amateur titles. In 1994 he came from six holes behind to win the first of his three consecutive U.S. Amateur Championships. He enrolled at Stanford University in 1994 and won the collegiate title in 1996. After claiming his third U.S. Amateur title, Woods left college and turned professional on August 29, 1996. Playing as a pro in eight PGA events in 1996, he won two titles and was named the PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year.

Michelle Kwan (champion figure skater)Michelle Kwan 2

Michelle Kwan, original name Kwan Shan Wing, (born July 7, 1980, Torrance, California, U.S.), American figure skater who was one of the most decorated athletes in the sport. Combining artistry and elegance with athleticism, she won more than 40 championships, including a record-tying nine U.S. titles (1996, 1998–2005).

Kwan began skating at age five and won her first competition two years later. In 1994 she landed the alternate spot on the U.S. Olympic team and the following year placed fourth at the world championships. In 1996, sporting a new, more grown-up look, she won her first U.S. and world titles. After a growth spurt that added both height and weight, Kwan finished second to Tara Lipinski at the U.S. and world championships in 1997. She entered the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, as the gold-medal favourite, having defeated Lipinski at the U.S. championships earlier in the year. Lipinski, however, won the closely contested event, and Kwan had to settle for a silver medal. She captured a bronze medal at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the following year won her fifth world championship (1996, 1998, 2000–01, 2003).

Bruno Mars (singer)Bruno Mars 2

Bruno Mars, byname of Peter Gene Hernandez, (born October 8, 1985, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.), American singer and songwriter who was known for both his catchy pop music—which often featured upbeat lyrics, blended different genres, and had a retro quality—and his energetic live performances. He was the son of Pete (“Dr. Doo-Wop”) Hernandez, a Latin percussionist of Puerto Rican extraction from Brooklyn, and Bernadette Hernandez, a Filipina vocalist and hula dancer. He was nicknamed Bruno when he was a toddler and began entertaining in Honolulu at the age of four as an Elvis Presley impersonator with his parents’ band, the Love Notes. He had a small role as Little Elvis in the 1992 film Honeymoon in Vegas (billed as Bruno Hernandez). As a young teenager, he appeared in a local revue impersonating Michael Jackson, and he taught himself to play piano, guitar, bass, and percussion. After graduating from high school, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a musician. About that time he took the stage name Bruno Mars.

Jason Momoa (actor)Jason Momoa 2

Best known as Justice League's Aquaman (among several other big screen roles), Jason Momoa identifies as Native Hawaiian and Polynesian. His father was Native Hawaiian and Samoan, but he was brought up by his mother, who is of German, Irish and Native American ancestry. The A-list Hollywood actor was born in Honolulu Hawaii, moved to Iowa for most of his childhood and went back to Hawaii for college. He often visits Hawaii and publicly advocates for the preservation of the dormant volcano on the Big Island, Mauna Kea.

Dwayne Johnson (actor)Dwayne Johnson 2

Also known at The Rock, actor Dwayne Johnson was actually a college football player and a professional WWE wrestler before landing his first movie in The Mummy Returns in 2001, so he's been in the spotlight for a good chunk of his life. He was born in California to professional wrestler Rocky Johnson, who is Black and Nova Scotian, and actress Ata Johnson, who is of Samoan descent. Dwayne is still acting, whether he's playing a lead role in a movie like Doc Savage, lending his voice in DC Super Pets or portraying his dad in the TV series, Young Rock.

Recommended Books

The Prince George's County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) is also celebrating Women's History Month with book recommendations for all ages. Here's a sneak peak of some of the educational and entertaining books they're is recommending for the month of May. Want to see the full list? Visit the PGCMLS Asian Pacific History Month page for more books, online exhibits, and more.


Little Fires Everywhere
The Joy Luck Club
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The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee
Rise: A Pop History of Asian American from the Nineties to Now
Banned Book Club
A Pho Love Story


Dumplings for Lili
Front Desk
Hello, Universe
The Night Diary
I'm Ok
Amina's Song

Asian Pacific American Celebrations around the Region