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Explore History, Tradition & Culture During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Mountain Lake PBS is proud to celebrate AAPI Heritage this May and all year round!

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time to recognize the important role generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have had, and continue to play, in the story of our country. Originating as a week long celebration in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, AAPI Heritage Month was later established in 1992 to mark the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to the United States on May 7, 1843, as well as the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders come from almost 50 different countries and speak over 100 different languages and dialects. Continue below for resources to celebrate and learn about the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures and histories, and helpful tools to engage in important conversations about race and allyship in America. View a full lineup of AAPI Heritage Month programs in our weekday Watch & Wonder block.

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Learn About AAPI History & Culture

12 Books to Celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Grades PreK-3
To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, PBS KIDS put together a list of favorite books featuring Asian characters, written by Asian authors, or illustrated by Asian artists — all chosen by kids and parents like you! Check out these heartwarming and fun tales with your family.

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month | All About the Holidays

Grades K-5
In the United States, May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Many people use the month to honor the accomplishments of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States while celebrating their diverse heritages.

AAPI Heritage Month | The Library of Congress

Grades K-12
A collaborative project of the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the contents of this site highlight primary documents, blog posts, videos, recordings and more related to AAPI history and culture and resources to uplift Asian and Asian American voices.

PBS Asian Americans collection

Grades 3-12
As America becomes more diverse, and more divided, Asian Americans are experiencing a wave of discrimination. In the face of unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate and personal life stories, the resources in this collection cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played in shaping the nation’s story.

Why Do We Say, “Asian American,” Not “Oriental”? | Origin of Everything

Grades 9-12
The term “Oriental” is hundred of years old, so why do Americans no longer use “Oriental”? And how did the term “Asian American” take its place? Watch this episode of Origin of Everything to find out.

AAPI Leaders & Visionaries

Stephanie Murphy – US Congresswoman l Vietnamese Orlando

Grades 3-12
Vietnamese immigrant and Central Florida resident, former U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, shares the story of her path to the American dream as the first Vietnamese-American woman in Congress.

Amy Tan | American Masters collection

Grades 6-12
Known for her groundbreaking debut novel The Joy Luck Club, and bestselling novels, librettos, short stories and memoirs, Amy Tan is one of the most prominent and respected literary voices working today. A global icon for Asian Americans, Tan’s work has been translated into 35 languages and gives a brave look into the humanity of her fictional and autobiographical writing alike. Learn more about Amy Tan with the American Masters collection for the film Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir.

Queen Lili‘uokalani | Unladylike2020

Grades 6-12
Queen Lili‘uokalani was the first sovereign queen, and the last monarch, of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. At the time of her reign, a new Hawaiian constitution imposed by white Americans had reduced the voting rights of Hawaiian citizens and much of the monarchy’s powers, transferring power to American business owners and missionaries. Learn how Lili‘uokalani fought to restore native Hawaiian rights in this video from Unladylike2020. 

Anna May Wong | Unladylike2020

Grades 6-12
Learn about actress Anna May Wong—the first Chinese American Hollywood movie star, producer and one of the most influential style icons of her time, in this resource from Unladylike2020. Throughout Wong’s career, she encountered racism and stereotyping in the roles she was offered, but in the end she found a way to flourish as an actor on her own terms starring in 60 films. 

Graphic Novelist Gene Luen Yang on Bringing ‘American Born Chinese’ to TV | PBS NewsHour

Grades 9-12
Cartoonist and MacArthur Foundation Genius, Gene Luen Yang, is the artist behind popular work like the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics and American Born Chinese, the award winning graphic novel that details what it’s like to grow up Asian in America. Learn about the new Disney Plus series loosely based on American Born Chinese, and how Yang continues to break down racist stereotypes with compelling characters and coming-of-age plots across media.

Allyship & Social Justice Resources

Race, Ethnicity, and Culture collection | Sesame Street in Communities

Grades PreK-3
Sesame Street in Communities provides parents, caregivers, and family childcare providers with support to help lay the foundations for children’s healthy development. Resources in the Race, Ethnicity, and Culture collection provide tools to help think about, ask about, and talk about race with young children, develop pride in their own unique identities, and cope with difficult race-related situations and experiences. Specific resources include content to address anti-Asian racism.

Social Justice Books: Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books

Grades PreK-5
Children’s books continue to be an invaluable source of information and values. They reflect the attitudes in our society about diversity, power relationships among different groups of people, and various social identities. Carefully choosing quality children’s books is an indispensable educational and child-raising task. Use this guide from Social Justice Books to help you identify and select anti-bias children’s books for your family or classroom.

Resilience and Community | be/longing: Asian Americans Now

Grades 6-12
Investigate be/longing: Asian Americans Now, a series from Exploring Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and Extremism and The Serica Initiative profiling Asian Americans from AAPI communities across the country. Actor George Takei, Pulitzer Prize winner Việt Thanh Nguyễn, and others share personal stories of exclusion, striving, and belonging in America and discuss how their communities are standing up and speaking out against hate. Engage with the short videos of this series through thoughtful discussions. Then reflect on the resilience and empowerment of Asian Americans, a key theme of each story, by creating a display case design plan for a school or library.

Anti-Asian Racism: Connections in History

Grades 6-12
This collection of educational resources will help students make sense of anti-Asian racism today by connecting it with history. The materials are designed to be a flexible resource for educators and can be taught within certain time periods and historical events, or through over-arching themes.

Watch & Wonder Programming

Check out the Mountain Lake PBS Watch & Wonder block, weekdays from 1-3pm! Join us throughout May for AAPI Heritage Month as we celebrate and honor AAPI history and learn about important cultural contributions made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Wednesday, May 1

2 PM: 80 Years Later

80 Years Later explores the racial inheritance of Japanese American family incarceration during World War II through multigenerational conversations with survivors and their descendants. In the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that imprisoned 120,000 Japanese Americans in WWII, families still grapple with the legacy of their experience. How do we inherit trauma across generations?

Thursday, May 2

1 PM: Behind the Strings: The Shanghai Quartet

When Mao’s Cultural Revolution ended, China’s door cracked open. Four young, classical musicians seized the opportunity to flee to the West as Western Classical music was banned. The Quartet began a lifetime adventure – studying with great masters, attending Juilliard, and performing at major music festivals and best classical music venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and The Kennedy Center.

Friday, May 10

1 PM: Great Performances | Now Hear This “The Composer is Yoo”

Travel with host, Mexico City Philharmonic chief conductor Scott Yoo, in this special mini-series taking viewers on a voyage of musical discovery for aficionados and neophytes alike. Each episode reveals the creative process behind a diverse range of classical music in both historic and modern-day periods. In the episode The Composer is Yoo, follow host Scott Yoo’s journey to compose a piece of music for the first time. Seeking counsel from other composers, Yoo revisits his heritage in search of ideas, performs landmark pieces for inspiration and ultimately tests his work in progress.

Tuesday, May 14

1 PM: Asian Americans | Breaking Ground

Asian Americans is a five-hour film series that chronicles the contributions, and challenges of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing ethnic group in America. Personal histories and new academic research will cast a fresh lens on U.S. history and the role Asian Americans have played in it. Episode one, Breaking Ground, describes an era of exclusion and U.S. empire, as new immigrants arrive from China, India, Japan, the Philippines and beyond. Barred by anti-Asian laws they become America’s first “undocumented immigrants,” yet they build railroads, dazzle on the silver screen, and take their fight for equality to the U.S. Supreme Court.

2 PM: Asian Americans | A Question of Loyalty

An American-born generation straddles their country of birth and their parents’ homelands in Asia. Those loyalties are tested during World War II, when families are imprisoned in detention camps, and brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the battle lines.

Wednesday, May 15

1 PM: Asian Americans | Good Americans

During the Cold War years, Asian Americans are simultaneously heralded as a Model Minority, and targeted as the perpetual foreigner. It is also a time of bold ambition, as Asian Americans aspire for the first time to national political office and a coming culture-quake simmers beneath the surface.

2 PM: Asian Americans | Generation Rising

During a time of war and social tumult, a young generation fights for equality in the fields, on campuses and in the culture, and claim a new identity: Asian Americans. The war’s aftermath brings new immigrants and refugees who expand the population and the definition of Asian America.

Thursday, May 16

1 PM: Asian Americans | Breaking Through

At the turn of the new millennium, the country tackles conflicts over immigration, race, economic disparity, and a shifting world order. A new generation of Asian Americans are empowered by growing numbers and rising influence but face a reckoning of what it means to be an American in an increasingly polarized society. 

2 PM: Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story

Using his camera as a “weapon against injustice,” Chinese American photographer Corky Lee’s art is his activism. His unforgettable images of Asian American life empowered generations. This film’s intimate portrait reveals the triumphs and tragedies of the man behind the lens.

Friday, May 17

1 PM: Ka Hana Kapa

Ka Hana Kapa documents the history of kapa in Hawai‘i and follows the complex process of Hawaiian kapa making from start to finish. Hawaiian kapa is one of the most beautiful art forms in the Pacific. In ancient Hawai‘i, kapa, or bark cloth made from the wauke plant (Broussonetia papyrifera), was used for clothing, bedding, the wrapping of precious iwi (ancestor’s bones), important ceremonies, and a myriad of other purposes, making it an integral part of everyday life in Hawaiian society. Ka Hana Kapa is the story of kapa making in Hawai‘i, as told by these dedicated kapa practitioners and their students, who have given new life to this intricate cultural practice.