Welcome to the 2013 Asian American Heritage Month Exhibit Celebrating Asian Americans in Illinois!
In 1978, when President Jimmy Carter signed a resolution designating May as a time to celebrate the contributions of Asian/Pacific Americans, few could foresee the development of the Asian American population, especially here in Illinois. People of Asian heritage now comprise five percent of the State’s population. In fact, the Asian American population in Illinois grew 39 percent between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses, Illinois’ fastest-growing demographic.
Illinois Asian American residents first appear in the 1870 Census, though Chinese lived here long before. In the 1890s, Japanese immigrants arrived, followed by Filipinos, Koreans and Indians. Illinois is now home to people with roots in Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Tibet, Nepal, Taiwan, Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Malaysia.
To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’ve organized an exhibit — “Asian Americans Making History” — in the James R. Thompson Center featuring displays prepared by some of Illinois’ leading Asian American cultural and community institutions.
Let me thank the contributors to this fascinating exhibit, including the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigration Rights and Empowerment, Cambodian American Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial, Chinese American Museum of Chicago, Japanese American Service Committee, Japanese American Citizens League, Korean Cultural Center, Lao American Organization of Elgin, South Asian American policy and Research Institute, and others.
Asian Americans have been contributing to the rich tapestry of Illinois for 150 years and we are all better for it. Happy Asian American Heritage Month!
Governor Pat Quinn