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May 17, 2005 > Asian-American Heritage Festival

Asian-American Heritage Festival

by Linda Stone

Taiko drummers will strike a pervasive beat and dancers will demonstrate their prowess at the twelfth annual Asian-American Heritage Festival on Saturday, May 21. Ethnic performances by local residents include Thai classical dancers, cultural dances of the Philippines, Middle Eastern dancers and musicians, Hawaiian dancers, Taiwanese cultural dances and much more. Admission is free. The festival is held this year in conjunction with a celebration of the United Nation's 60th anniversary and Asian/Pacific Heritage Week.

In June 1977 United States Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Mineta of California called upon the president to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. A month later, Hawaii Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both passed. President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution in October 1978, designating Asian/Pacific Heritage Week an annual celebration and by May 1990 President George H. W. Bush proclaimed May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. A majority of workers who laid railroad tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Over 11 years ago the Asian American Federation of California was founded by a group of Asian community leaders. The goal of the organization is to promote Asian culture, resulting in increased community peace and understanding.

The celebration will include an awards ceremony, dance, music, songs, martial arts, and ethnic foods, trade booths and cultural displays representing the diversified cultures of Asia.

12th Annual Asian American Heritage Festival
"Unity in Diversity"
Saturday, May 21
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church
32975 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City
(510) 784-7341

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