SF celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
By Examiner Staff on May 9, 2016 1:00 am
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is in full-swing in San Francisco.While the rising rainbow flags along Market Street signal to city residents and visitors that San Francisco Pride is in June, there is no visual equivalent for Asian Pacific Heritage Month in The City. Celebrations began last Monday with an awards ceremony and reception honoring significant anniversaries for the Asian Art Museum, Japantown and the Seoul Sister City Committee. They will continue through Asian Heritage Street Fair, held every year at UN Plaza on the third Saturday in May. Claudine Cheng, who heads both the APA Heritage Foundation and Celebration Committee in San Francisco, said the purpose of the awards ceremony is to bring the many Asian Pacific American ethnic groups together and honor those who have made accomplishments throughout the year.
The ceremony was held at the Herbst Theater and, for the first time, the committee that put the celebration together includes representatives from an Indonesian American foundation.“What really touched a lot of people … is that every year at the end of the one-hour ceremony we have something called the cultural procession,” Cheng said. “It’s a very powerful, moving picture at the same time because the purpose is to bring people together.”More than 100 people — both young and old, of about 10 to 12 ethnic groups — partook in the procession, Cheng said.“It’s an opportunity for people to do something positive together,” she said.
The Celebration Committee was started in 2005 when Cheng approached then-Mayor Gavin Newsom with a proposition — San Francisco didn’t “do anything” to celebrate APA Heritage Month, and should hold a ceremony.“He said, ‘Oh let’s do that,’” Cheng said. “It was just that easy.”It has been celebrated in that way ever since.The celebration of Asian and Pacific Islanders began nationwide as a weeklong celebration in 1979. In 1992, Congress passed a law that designated May in honor of APA heritage.The logo for APA Heritage Month in The City is a colorful “A,” adorned with various symbols including sandals and a pink elephant, meant to represent the wide variety of cultures that make up Asian Pacific Americans in San Francisco.
“Most people just remember Cinco De Mayo,” Cheng said. “It is my hope that one day when everyone sees the ‘A’ logos and the ‘A’ banners, [they think] ‘Oh, it’s Asian Heritage Month.’”