Legislator pushes for a national Asian American history museum

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At a time when attacks on Asian Americans are on the rise, some lawmakers want to create a national museum focusing on Asian Pacific American history and culture.

“I was born and raised in this country and I really do not feel that I have learned enough or that children are learning enough about the contributions and the pain that Asian Americans went through,” said Representative Grace Meng (DN.Y. ), which introduced the bill to explore the creation of a new museum.

On Tuesday afternoon, Parliament is expected to vote to set up a panel of eight members to examine what it will take to acquire museum collections, possible locations and funding, among other details.

“I hope this is a permanent way for both Americans and visitors to this country to get a glimpse of Asian American life,” Meng said.

Meng hopes the museum will offer everything from installations on the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese workers from entering the country for 20 years from 1882, to information on Asian Americans who have served in the armed forces.

“We want to make sure we are as inclusive as possible,” Meng said.

The road to creating the museum follows the formula of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was 100 years in the making and opened in 2016.

If the Asian American Museum is approved, it could compete for a seat at the National Mall along with the National Museum of the American Latino and the American Women’s History Museum, both of which were approved by Congress in 2020.

The nation’s 22 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries, according to the Pew Research Center. Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group with a population that has grown by 36 percent over the past decade. By 2060, the Asian population in the United States is expected to exceed 46 million.

Since the start of the pandemic, attacks on Asian Americans have increased nationwide, law enforcement officials say. In 2021, journalist Lisa Ling testified before the House’s Natural Resources Committee about the need for the museum.

“When a people’s stories and stories are excluded from a country’s narrative, it becomes so easy to overlook and dehumanize the entire population,” Ling said. “… We all deserve a place to take our children and see that Asian Americans are and have been an integral part of the structure of this great nation.”

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