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June 2002

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WINDOW ON USA

Celebrating May *

Asian Heritage Month

in  Atlanta   New York

S. Jacob

GlobalomNet Media Service

May is Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month—a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Much like Black History and Women's History celebrations, APA Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill put forward by legislators.

South Asians constitute over 15% of the American population.

In June 1977, Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed.

On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration.

In May 1990, the holiday was expanded further when President George H. W. Bush designated May to be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States in 1843.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated with community festivals, government-sponsored activities, and educational activities for students. The theme for 2002 is “Unity in Freedom”. (There have been different themes since 1981.)

In a Proclamation for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, 2002, President Bush, said, “Our Nation's rich cultural diversity reflects our Constitution's core vision of freedom and justice for all. Throughout our history, Asian/Pacific Americans have made great contributions to America's heritage and prosperity. During this month, we proudly celebrate Asian/Pacific Americans, one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, for their remarkable role in our Nation's development.”

“Through the years, Asian immigrants and Pacific Islanders have enriched the American way of life. Nobel Prize winner Dr. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar's groundbreaking theories on the evolution of stars helped lay the foundation for modern astrophysics,” he added.

 


 Dr Chandrasekhar

 

Dr Chandrasekhar was the only South Asian mentioned in the proclamation. The only other from Asian/Pacific region was, Anna May Wong, “one of the first Asian Americans to achieve great fame in American film”.

 

Atlanta

 

In Atlanta, Georgia, Asian/ Pacific American Council organised the celebrations.

 

Founded in 1985, Asian/ Pacific American Council is a federation of societies in the metro Atlanta area. The member societies, amongst others, include India American Cultural Association and Pakistani-American Society of Atlanta.

 

Alan Wang, WSB- TV’s South metro bureau was the master of ceremonies at the May 4 Banquet held at Atlanta Perimeter Centre.

 

Dr Narsi Narasimhan  Narsi introduced the guest speaker. Narsi is the founder of the Indian Professionals Network

 


Dr Rajeev Dhawan


Dr Narasinhan (R) with Indian Ambassador
H.E. Lalit Mansingh

(File Photo by Safi Quadri of Atlanta Samachar)

Dr Rajeev Dhawan was the featured speaker. He probably holds the second most prestigious position for an economist in the Southeast USA.  Of course, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta is undiputed key economist here.  In the academia, there is no question that the Director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University holds tremendous stature.  He is constantly invited by CNN, Atlanta Business Chronicle and local television, radio and print media.

 

Dr Ash Thakkar

Dr Giriraj Rao

Jit Virdi

Ravi Shah

Ravi Shah, outstanding IACA scholar, is an honors senior at Brookwood High in Snellville. He is an avid tennis player and plans to study political science.

 

Amongst others, present at the Banquet, were: Dr Ash Thakkar, 2001 APAC president, Dr Giriraj Rao, a past president of APAC and an expert on mango culture, Jit Virdi, a prominent member.

 

  (With reports from ipnatlanta.net and Vic Romero)

 

New York

 

The Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA), established in 1979, to organise the Annual Asian Heritage Festival, is a non-profit organization staffed solely by volunteers working together to build a sense of community among the tri-state area's Asian Pacific Americans.

The 23rd Annual CAPA Asian Heritage Festival in celebration of Asian Heritage Month 2002 was held at Union Square Park North, on the corner of Broadway and 17th Street, New York.

 

The South Asian League of Artists in AMerica (SALAAM) organised the following events:

 

May 5 : launch party for Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla's sensational novel, ODE TO LATA/

 

May 7:  A Tribute to Tagore on the occasion of his 141st birthday pieces written by and inspired by Rabindranath Tagore featuring:

Rizwan Mirza and Sunita S. Mukhi in Tagore's one-act play, KARNA & KUNTI, directed by Geeta Citygirl


Rizwan Mirza and Sunita S. Mukhi as
KARNA & KUNTI


 Dr Rabindranath Tagore

Isheeta Ganguly and Srabonti Narmeen Ali performed Tagore's songs including one original composition fused with a Tagore song.

A movie clip from the film Kabuliwala:

Based on Tagore's story of the same name, this is the simple but endearing story of a man who is known by the name of the beloved land, but poverty and a mountain of debts force him to leave, along with a little girl called Binnie.  In Binnie, Kabuliwala sees his beloved daughter whom he broke his heart to leave behind. In Kabuliwala, Binnie sees a simple god-fearing fatherly figure. The bond between them grows as we travel on their journey together.

Mahina Movement's rendition of poetry from Tagore's Gitanjali: Song Offerings
(Gitanjali was published with 103 poems/songs of Tagore which were translated by Tagore himself.)

May 8 : Rising Circle Theater Collective's presentation of Minds on the Mend - a showcase of original and published scenes.

Featuring scenes from:

"Death and The Maiden" by Ariel Dorfman, directed by Anuvab Pal featuring Deepa Purohit, Andy Brown, Sourabh Chatterjee

"SanctOvum: My One Good Ovary" by Lucinda Holt* directed by Raphael Peacock with Colette Porteous, Thanya Polonio, Amanda Hargrove, Joseph Pagliano, Gita Reddy, Lucinda Holt, Shannon Bryant

"Spoiled Milk" by Ajit Jagdale, directed by Jordan Thomas, featuring Neil Shah, Reena Shah, Lopa Banerjee, & Joe Corrao

"Eleemosynary" by Lee Blessing, directed by Geeta Citygirl featuring Priya Soni, Sunita Mukhi, Geeta Citygirl

May 23: Artistic Director, Geeta Citygirl, was the guest speaker at the CCNY Honors Convocation.

Previous City College alumni who have spoken at the annual Honors Convocation include Richard Schiff (Class of 1983), star of the hit TV series The West Wing, who presented Ms. Citygirl, then a graduating senior, with an honors award for excellence in theatre at the 2000 ceremony; and best-selling author Walter Mosley (‘91MA).

(With reports from Geeta Citygirl)