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A Message from Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic

Post from Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic - May 2017

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2017

During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we recognize the many contributions of generations of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders to building this great nation. From farmworkers to railroad laborers, to entrepreneurs and scientists, and to members of the armed forces and public servants, AAPIs have helped shaped the very fabric of America.

We also recognize the many injustices AAPIs have faced throughout history - from the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and its devastating effects on native Hawaiian language and culture; to exclusionary laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924; and to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Racism, exclusionary laws, and alien land laws, from the latter half of the 1800s through the 1960s, restricted immigration, property rights, and civil rights for many AAPIs. Even more recently, members of the South Asian American community have faced prejudice and bigotry post 9/11.

In light of the continued work to be done, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) remains committed to doing its part in protecting civil rights for all in the workplace and creating equal employment opportunity.

Not far from EEOC headquarters in Washington, DC, is the Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II.  The memorial, which features a pair of cranes entangled in barbed wire, commemorates Japanese American veterans who fought during World War II as well as the patriotism and experience of those held in interment camps during the war. The memorial also includes a quote from President Harry S. Truman made while presenting a citation to a Japanese American regiment: 

"You fought not only the enemy but you fought prejudice -- and you won. Keep up that fight and we will continue to win -- to make this great Republic stand for what the Constitution says its stands for: the welfare of all of the people all of the time."

President Truman's words echo the very core of our work - fighting prejudice and creating equal employment opportunity for everyone in the American workplace. This AAPI Heritage Month, join me in celebrating the rich history and contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and reaffirming our commitment to ensuring equal employment opportunity for all.