WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Joseph R. Biden signed into law legislation brought to the Senate floor by Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), to establish a commission to study the creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture. Amid a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, the creation of such a museum would help promote understanding about Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) communities and their many contributions to American history and culture. The bill previously passed in the House, where it was introduced by Representative Grace Meng (D-NY), and passed in the Senate unanimously in May.
“Despite many noteworthy contributions in various spaces, Asian and Pacific Islander American individuals and communities have largely been excluded or erased from American history for years,” said Senator Hirono. “We are often pejoratively depicted as foreigners, instead of people who have lived in and positively contributed to this country for generations—narratives which have fueled xenophobia and prejudice, contributing to decades of racist laws and discrimination. Establishing a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture would help combat these harmful narratives by helping us to better understand each other, and our shared history as Americans. I am glad that President Biden has signed this historic legislation into law and I’ll continue working to make sure our communities’ stories are told.”
“Throughout our history, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders have literally shaped the history and the contours of this country,” said President Biden. “Museums of this magnitude and consequence are going to inspire and educate. More than anything else, it's going to help people see themselves in the story of America - the story that has made us a better America.”
The bill establishes an eight-person commission, appointed equally by House and Senate Majority and Minority leadership, comprised of individuals with deep expertise in the research, study, and promotion of Asian Pacific American history, museum administration, and other relevant fields. The commission would be responsible for submitting a report with recommendations to the President and Congress on the potential creation of a museum. Congress would then need to act on those recommendations to establish the museum.
Congress has previously established other similar museums. In 2003, Congress passed a law to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In 2020, Congress passed legislation to create a National Museum of the American Latino.
Senator Hirono has long advocated on behalf of APIA communities in Hawaii, the U.S., and Pacific Island nations and territories. To address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and violence during the heart of the pandemic, Senator Hirono introduced the COVID-19 Hates Crimes Act—bipartisan, bicameral legislation that was signed into law by President Biden on May 20, 2021. For the last several years, Senator Hirono has led the Senate resolution recognizing May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Last month, she also introduced the Teaching Asian Pacific American History Act – bicameral legislation that would promote the teaching of Asian Pacific American history for high school students and teachers who enroll in the U.S. Department of Education’s American History and Civics Academies programs.