Honoring AAPI Heritage: Reflecting on History to Inform Action
May is Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI). The Illinois Civics Hub partnered with the Illinois Democracy Schools Network to host a free webinar for students and teachers titled, Honoring AAPI Heritage: Reflecting on AAPI History to Inform Action. Participants had an opportunity to reflect on AAPI History, discuss the recent rise in hate crimes against the Asian American community and explore opportunities for students to take informed action.
Dr. Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Fred Korematsu Institute provided a historical grounding for this conversation. Sonia Mathew, Program Officer at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation then led a panel of AAPI champions in an exploration of current events and opportunities for informed action to support the AAPI community and beyond, responding to participant questions throughout.
- Grace Pai, Director of Organizing, Asian Americans Advancing Justice
- Illinois State Senator Ram Villivalam
- Jay Mehta, Teacher, Wheaton North High School
Some ideas for informed action include:
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice is providing Bystander Intervention training which may be helpful in giving you strategies to address incidents that might occur.
- The TEAACH Act will amend the Illinois School Code to include an Asian American History Curriculum in every public school in Illinois. It also pairs with the five-hour PBS film series and K-12 curricula, compliant with Common Core and National Standards, designed to be easily adopted into lesson plans and curricula.
If you missed the webinar, a recording is available on the Illinois Civics Webinar Archive.
To extend learning about AAPI history throughout the school year, please consider the following:
- The Fred Korematsu Institute has resources for education, media and advocacy.
- Let’s K-12 Better Together created an AAPI Toolkit.
- A ‘History of Exclusion, of Erasure, of Invisibility.’ Why the Asian-American Story Is Missing From Many U.S. Classrooms from Time Magazine by Olivia Waxman provides a compelling piece for educators to use to reflect on current practice and paths to move forward.
- The Library of Congress, 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 have joined in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success with a robust library of resources for classroom use.
- Share My Lesson has an archive of engaging pre K-12 lessons to celebrate the journeys, cultures, histories and contributions of the AAPI community.
- This on-demand webinar from Smithsonian Learning Lab on Using Digital Resources to Integrate Asian Pacific American Experiences in the Classroom is an excellent learning opportunity for educators at every grade level.
- The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has lessons, tools and strategies for teachers and parents to honor AAPI Heritage Month.
- We Are Teachers curated Classroom Resources and Tips to Address Anti-Asian Discrimination.
- PBS NewsHour published a lesson plan, Asian Americans face a wave of discrimination during the pandemic.
- Learning for Justice published an article, Responding to Anti-Asian Violence and Georgia Shootings.
- Read, Think, Write has lesson plans organized by grade band for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
- The Bill of Rights Institute has curated materials from their collection to support AAPI history.
What are you doing to honor AAPI Heritage with your students? Please comment below. Together, we can prepare all students for college, career and civic life.