The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is pleased to recognize May 2003 as Asian Pacific Heritage Month. Asian Pacific Americans are one of the fastest growing segments of our population, having increased in number from fewer than 1.5 million in 1970 to 10.5 million in 2000.

Mary Frances Berry, the Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, noted the rich cultural heritage that Asian Pacific Americans bring to the United States. "Whether in government, business, science, technology, or the arts, Asian Pacific Americans have added immeasurably to the prosperity and vitality of our society. Yet, like many people of color in this country, they too often have faced exclusion and prejudice. This month our nation makes a special effort to celebrate the achievements and examine the discrimination faced by Asian Pacific Americans."

The Commission has published numerous works focusing on Asian Pacific Americans, including Voices Across America: Roundtable Discussions of Asian Civil Rights Issues, a summary and transcript of conferences held in various U.S. cities; Recent Activities Against Citizens and Residents of Asian Descent; The Economic Status of Americans of Asian Descent: An Exploratory Investigation; Civil Rights Issues Facing Asian Americans in the 1990s; and Reconciliation at a Crossroads: Implications of the Apology Resolution and Rice v. Cayetano for Federal and State Programs Benefiting Native Hawaiians.

The Commission has frequently spoken out against discrimination faced by Asian Pacific Americans, from hate crime to more subtle forms of discrimination such as corporate "glass ceilings," the myth of the "model minority," and the relegation of Asian Pacific Americans to the status of "perpetual outsiders." Last year, the Commission issued a statement reiterating that Asian Americans must not be tainted by national disputes with the Chinese government. Dr. Berry said, "If America is to live up to its creed of full equality for all citizens, we must continue to speak out against prejudice and bigotry in all its forms."