Biden signs bill for a national museum on Asian Pacific American history


The US government on Monday, June 13 has formed a commission that will look at the possibility of setting up a national museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture in Washington. The Indian Americans called it an important landmark in the history of the U.S.

President Joe Biden signed a bill H.R. 3525, the “Commission to study the potential creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture Act” into law in the East Room of the White House, surrounded by AAPI members, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The initiative comes at a time when there has been a nationwide push to mitigate years of anti-Asian hate crisis.

“It’s about time for a national museum to capture the courage, the character, the imagination and – maybe from my perspective, looking at it from a little bit from a distance – the dreams and the heart and the soul of the generations of our fellow Americans that came before you,” President Biden said in his remarks before the signing of the Bill.

The museum will narrate the history of the early South Asian Americans who helped transform agriculture in the Pacific coast, the Japanese Americans who fought for the US during the second World War, the Chinese American garment workers who marched on the streets of New York for better pay and benefits four-decades ago.

Some of the darkest moments of the U.S.’ rise while on its way to be the biggest superpower, like the Chinese Exclusion Act (signed in 1882 by President Chester A Arthur to ban Chinese immigrants from entering US for 10 years), the internment of Japanese Americans, the murder of Vincent Chin (beaten to death in a racially motivated hate crime on June 19, 1982), acts of discrimination against South Asian Americans following the 9/11 terror attacks and the repeated acts of violence against the African Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander (NHPI) community.

 “Museums of this magnitude and consequence are going to inspire and educate more than anything else is going to help people see themselves in the story of America. A story that makes us a better America, and has made us a better America,” Biden further added.

 In the U.S., the month of May is marked as the Asian Pacific American month, which includes immigrants from New Zealand, the Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, the Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island.

The museum if created would sit alongside the National Museum of the American Latino and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

The bill will set up an eight-person commission to study the cost of the potential collection and how best to engage Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the study.

The commission is charged with issuing recommendations for a “plan of action” for the museum’s establishment, potentially as part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Also present at the signing in ceremony was Vice President Kamala Harris who in her opening remarks talked about her mother who came to the United States from India to become a breast cancer researcher.

   “Growing up, my mother made sure that my sister Maya and I learned of the important glorious history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in America,” Harris said.

“The National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture will teach and tell a story of our country,” Harris added.

The legislation has previously been passed by the House and Senate and had been sent to the President’s desk in May. The bill had been sponsored in the House by Rep Grace Meng and in the Senate by Hawaii Sen Mazie Hirono, passed the House on April 26 and the Senate on May 19.

The Indian American community leaders have welcomed the signing of the Bill by President Biden.

 “Passage of the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture Act, is a historic moment for our community,” Ajay Jain Bhutoria who was at the White House event, and serves on President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (U.S. HHS), told Indica. “This Museum Will teach and tell the story of our heroes about Asian Americans and the story of America, a story which will help make a better America.”

Bhutoria added the signing of the Bill was an important landmark in the history of the U.S., as it was a step forward for a museum dedicated to the role of the Asian Pacific American community in the U.S.’ development.

Bhutoria said the South Asian Americans have contributed hugely in the field of technology, healthcare, growth of small businesses, immigration and politics among other sectors.

In a statement issued by the executive director of Indian American Impact, an umbrella organization for Indians residing in the U.S., Neil Makhija remarked it was a great day and he was honored to have been present at the White House.

“The Asian American community has been historically excluded from inclusive conversations about American contributions for too long, and this investment is the first step in rectifying that,” Makhija said. “The museum will help bridge the divide our community has experienced and indisputably cement our accomplishments as part of American history.”