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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release May 5, 2000


"Asian Pacific American Heritage Month"

It is a great pleasure to join the American people in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month -- a time when our entire country recognizes and honors the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

The Asian Pacific American Community has enriched our nation with its diverse culture, industrious spirit, and many talented individuals who have helped to build and strengthen our nation. The contributions of this community reaches far and wide in our history and society, from laying the foundation of our railroad system in the last century to building today's technology industry. The influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our arts, education, sports, media, business, and government is seen and experienced in our everyday lives.

However, their journey throughout our history has not been easy one, as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have often faced hardship, discrimination and injustice-- think of the Japanese American interned during World War II, the Filipino Veteran who fought for freedom, the Chinese immigrant barred from U.S. citizenship, the Vietnamese American hate crime victim, or the Indian American denied employment opportunities. As we commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month let us not forget our continued struggle for racial tolerance and equality for all in our society.

In such a diverse community that traces its ancestry to hundreds of countries, ethnic groups and cultures, the challenges and needs of this population varies greatly. Sometimes these needs are masked by the overall success of the Asian Pacific American Community, but we know the challenges are still there, such as language barriers for new immigrants, lack of education opportunity, no access to health care, or discrimination in employment. For Pacific Islanders historical and geographic barriers play a role in the lack of opportunities for this population.

For these reasons the Clinton Gore Administration establish through Executive Order the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the first comprehensive federal effort to improve the quality of life for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Just this week in time for our celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month the President announced the 15 Members of the Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, as called for in the Executive Order. I applaud the President in his appointment of 15 individuals who represent the diversity of this community in terms of ethnicity, geography and expertise. I look forward to their advice and council on how we, the federal government, can better serve the needs of this community.

Indeed this year's celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage month is very significant as we embark on the first comprehensive federal initiative to assure that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have every opportunity to succeed and continue to make important contributions to our country.

Best wishes to everyone for an enjoyable and memorable commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.