Last night, President Obama delivered remarks before over 200 members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community at a White House celebration of AAPI Heritage Month. The audience included national, state, and local community leaders; elected officials; leaders of philanthropic, youth, and arts organizations; and members of the President’s Administration, including Sri Srinivasan, who was recently confirmed unanimously by the Senate to become the first South Asian American federal appeals court judge.
In his remarks, the President highlighted the contributions of generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who, in his words, “helped build this country, and helped to defend this country, and to make America what it is today.” He said:
We value these voices because from the very beginning, ours has been a nation of immigrants; a nation challenged and shaped and pushed ever forward by diverse perspectives and fresh thinking. And in order to keep our edge and stay ahead in the global race, we need to figure out a way to fix our broken immigration system -- to welcome that infusion of newness, while still maintaining the enduring strength of our laws. And the service and the leadership of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have proved that point time and again.
Following the President’s remarks, a diverse group of artists, authors, and musicians spoke or performed, showcasing the many contributions of AAPIs to the rich artistic traditions of America. Performers included Karsh Kale, Paula Fuga, John Cruz, Amy Tan, Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company, and Jessica Sanchez.
View video footage of the following performances:
- Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company performs “Dariush”
- Paula Fuga and John Cruz perform “Island Style” and “Lilikoi”
- Amy Tan reads from her essay, “Heritage”
Gautam Raghavan is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.