Biden signs bill to establish AAPI museum commission

Indian American Impact hails ‘fantastic step’ forward in appreciation of Asian American and Pacific Islander history

President Joe Biden has signed a bill to study how to create a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture “to help people see themselves in the story of America.”

“Today, it’s clear that the battle for the soul of America continues,” he said Monday signing into law the “Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture Act.”

Read: NYC schools to teach Asian American and Pacific Islander history (June 3, 2022)

“Museums of this magnitude and consequence are going to inspire and educate,” Biden said at the White House signing ceremony watched by Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“More than anything else, it’s going to help people see themselves in the story of America — a story that makes us a better America and it’s made us a better America,” he said.

“Throughout our history Asian American, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders have literally shaped the history and the contours of this country,” Biden noted.

“There’s no single Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander identity,” he said. “The diversity of the cultures is significant. And the breadth of achievement is equally as broad and significant.”

“The enrichment of our country has been — our communities — not just the country, but down to individual communities — the impact that the community has had.”

Earlier, Harris recalled that her mother was 19 years old, when she came to the United States from India to become a breast cancer researcher.

“Growing up, my mother made sure that my sister Maya and I learned of the important, glorious history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in America. Because that, of course, is part of the history of America,” she said.

“To teach this history is to help all of us as Americans understand where we come from. And to teach this history is to help us understand who we are,” Harris said. “The National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture will teach and tell the story of America.”

Read: Asian Americans must be in decision making rooms: Kamala Harris (May 23, 2022)

“This is a story about heroes who shaped our nation for the better, from the South Asian Americans who helped transform farming up and down the Pacific coast, to the Japanese Americans who defended our freedom during World War Two, to the Chinese American garment workers who marched through the streets of New York City 40 years ago to win better pay and benefits for all workers,” Harris said.

“This is also a story about some of our country’s darkest moments: the Chinese Exclusion Act, the internment of Japanese Americans, the murder of Vincent Chin, discrimination against South Asian Americans after 9/11, and today’s epidemic of hate, which is fueling violent acts against many communities including the AA and NHPI community,” she said.

“Because, you see, this is also American history, and we must teach it as it really happened so that we can learn from our best moments and learn from our darkest moments, and in particular, then, to ensure they are never repeated, our darkest moments.”

“By equipping people with knowledge and historical context, then we can fight ignorance, dispel misinformation, and work toward a future where all people can live without fear and a future where all people — all people can help write the next chapter of American history,” Harris said.

Indian American Impact, a leading community organization hailed the “fantastic step forward in the acknowledgment and appreciation of Asian American and Pacific Islander history.”

“This moment is the result of generations of positive contributions from the AAPI community, the work of organizations nationwide such as Indian American Impact and a unanimous push by the Senate last month,” it said.

“It’s a great day when our government can put aside its differences and come together to advance a shared interest,” Neil Makhija, Indian American Impact executive-director, stated.

“The Asian American community has been historically excluded from inclusive conversations about American contributions for too long, and this investment is the first step in rectifying that,” he noted.

Read: Biden signs bill for establishing national Asian Pacific history museum (June 14, 2022)

“The establishment of an AAPI museum will help bridge the divide our community has experienced and indisputably cement our accomplishments as part of American history.”

“I look forward to the celebration of our community’s cultural impact on this unprecedented scale and commend the hard work of everyone who led us to such a momentous day,” Makhija added.

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