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RCCD Observes Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month


RCCD Observes Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. At the colleges of the Riverside Community College District (RCCD) we have the privilege and opportunity this month to spotlight the history, culture and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), including more than 300,000 AAPI Veterans who have served in the US Armed Forces.

Today, AAPI populations in the US are estimated at 16.6 million people. By 2050 that number is expected to grow to more than 40 million. The AAPI is one of the fastest growing populations in our country. While we now celebrate the diversity and cultural contributions of our AAPI neighbors and fellow citizens, this has not always been the case. “The US had a history of creating policies that caused suffering among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and even citizens of the US who were of Japanese ancestry," according to, Wolde-Ab Isaac, Ph.D., chancellor of RCCD.

As we consider the history and heritage of our AAPI ancestors, we remember Dr. Kazue Togasaki, who became one of the first Japanese-American women to earn a medical degree, served the women living in the internment camps of World War II, and successfully practiced medicine for 40+ years in California; Dr. Feng Shan Ho who issued thousands of Chinese visas to Jews in Austria between 1938 and 1940, going against his superior in order to save 185,000 individuals from sure death by the Nazis; and Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first Asian American woman elected to Congress in 1964. The list of influential Asian American and Pacific Islander women and men who deserve recognition is long and distinguished.

RCCD's educational institutions have been greatly influenced by AAPI benefactors. For instance, in the 1900s the Harada family owned the Washington Restaurant on University Avenue, which is now the site of RCCD's Centennial Plaza. And, the RCC Culinary Academy occupies the site of the former Chungking Restaurant, which Chinese immigrants Voy and Fay Wong operated from 1942 to 1974.

We also remember a former RCC student, Miné Okubo who went on to become an artist, writer, and 1974 Alumnus of the Year. Surviving a World War II internment, Okubo, a Japanese American, wrote Citizen 13660, documenting the mid-20th century history of Japanese Americans in the US. She went on to illustrate for Fortune, Time, Life and The New Yorker. Her work is housed in the Center for Social Justice & Civil Liberties.​

An AAPI Resolution from RCCD

Last month, the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously approved Resolution No. 52, a declaration denouncing anti-Asian racism and hate against in Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

In the past year nearly 4,000 attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been recorded. Although, it is estimated that the number of incidents is higher, given that not every occurrence was reported, according to authorities. Incidents include being spat at or coughed on to the murders six Asians who were gunned down at three massage parlors in Atlanta.

“As stated in the resolution, Riverside Community College District will speak out against racism while embracing inclusivity and belonging," Isaac said. “The District has and will continue to support calls to action that support declarations that highlight the need for diversity, equity, inclusion and awareness, while noting that national origin and skin color should not be a reason to engage in violence, but instead be an opportunity to learn."


Published by External Relations & Strategic Communications