MMS Recognizes Significant Figures During AAPI Heritage Month

Did you know that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month? Throughout the month of May, the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States are celebrated.  

Thanks to the combined efforts of MMS Teachers April Naoko Heck and Akriti Ahuja, along with student council members and advisers Laura Bellizzi and Blythe Abramowitz, an AAPI person of the day was highlighted during morning announcements every school day in May. Students and homeroom teachers read aloud biographies of various influential figures to educate and better inform the Manhattan Middle School community about the wonderful diversity in U.S. history.  

“People of color—their voices, images, and stories—have historically been excluded from written and oral histories, from mainstream culture, from media such as TV and film, and in many other ways,” said Ms. Heck. “At the Manhattan Middle School, the morning biographies are mini-lessons that expand background knowledge about members of the AAPI community, and we hope their stories can be meaningful and inspiring.” 

Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans that were highlighted ranged from entertainers, directors, writers, athletes, activists, architects, news correspondents, and more. MMS students learned about famous Asian Americans including: 

  • Awkwafina, actress and comedian 

  • Connie Chung, first Asian American news anchor on major network 

  • Tammy Duckworth, first Asian American woman elected to Congress in Illinois 

  • Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN 

  • Mindy Kaling, actress and writer 

  • Yuri Kochiyama, civil rights activist  

  • Fred Korematsu, civil rights activist 

  • Jim Lee, CCO and publisher of DC Comics 

  • Jeremy Lin, first Chinese/Taiwanese-American to play in NBA   

  • Maya Lin, architect of Vietnam Memorial 

  • Patsy Mink, first U.S. Congresswoman of color 

  • Kumail Nanjiani, comedian and actor 

  • Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize winner in Literature 

  • Nicole Scherzinger, entertainer 

  • Tiger Woods, professional golfer 

  • Chloe Zhao, first Asian woman to win Academy Award for Best Director 

Across all divisions, Windward librarians highlighted book titles that featured characters and stories that represent many groups that AAPI encompasses. Teachers incorporated read alouds and texts in language arts classes that ranged from picture books, such as the true story of Jadav Payeng who combatted deforestation in India's Brahmaputra River region, to biographies of individuals like Maggie Gee, one of only two Chinese American women to serve in the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II.