MAY 2014: Americans will hear a lot this month about everything from Asian Americans and Jewish Americans to motorcycle safety and a host of other spring themes. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a month-long celebration of bicycles built around Bike-to-Work Day that began way back in the 1950s, the celebrity-supported Get Caught Reading Month and many foods are extensively promoted this month including asparagus and salsa.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
In 1978, the U.S. Congress passed a bipartisan proposal for a special heritage week in early May, honoring Americans of Asian and Pacific heritage. The week recalls two important anniversaries: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America on April 11, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which involved thousands of Chinese laborers, on May 10, 1869. By 1992, Congress expanded the week into the entire month of May. Now, the Library of Congress hosts a special resource-packed website for the month. The Smithsonian also has a website, which includes this fascinating page for teachers. The Scholastic Inc. publishing house also has an educational page. The Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association also maintains a website, listing a range of events planned for May.
In 2006, a bipartisan political team in Washington D.C., encouraged especially by Jewish leaders in Florida, succeeded in having President George W. Bush declare a first Jewish American Heritage Month. Since then, President Obama has issued annual declarations and the federal government encourages visits to historical sites that mark achievements of Jewish Americans. The best overall website for further information is sponsored by the nonprofit formed by the original supporters of this annual theme—and includes a growing online index of events related to this year’s observance. Now, the National Register of Historic Places publishes a special list of sites nationwide with special connections to our Jewish history in the U.S. The Library of Congress also maintains a helpful website dedicated to this special month. That website also has a special section to help teachers find educational resources online. One of the nonprofit groups encouraging tourism and educational programs, each May, is the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of Jewish American Archives.
HAITIAN HERITAGE MONTH
Haitian-Americans have not achieved the national recognition of the other two ethnic celebrations in May, but a movement that started in Florida has grown nationwide. A Wikipedia overview of this special month reports that a number of states, mainly along the East Coast, now host at least some events marking Haitian Heritage Month. Among the themed websites supporting this effort are “Haitian Heritage Month” and the Haitian Heritage Museum in Florida.
SHARE THE ROAD:
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May, all road users are reminded to safely “share the road” with motorcyclists. The and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. If you care about this issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a website packed with free images, posters and fact sheets you can use to spread the message. The website summarizes the importance of this month: “Motorcyclists will be out in force as the weather gets warmer, which is why May is the perfect time for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Fatal crashes with motorcycles are on the rise, and helmet usage is on the decline. We all need to be more aware of motorcyclists in order to save lives. Statistics show an alarming trend: in 2012, 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a continued increase from 2010. Those deaths account for 15 percent of the total highway fatalities that year. Injured motorcyclists also increased from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012.”