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May 01, 2024

ABA President Mary Smith on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Heritage Month

CHICAGO, May 1, 2024 — The American Bar Association joins with the nation in celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which recognizes the contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander Americans (AANHPI) to the history, culture and achievements of the United States.

The 2024 theme, “Bridging Histories, Shaping Our Future,” recognizes both the past legacies but, more importantly, the future contributions of the AANHPI community.

Too often, AANHPI communities are lumped together as a monolithic group. From the immigrants who came to America for a better life, to those who arrived as refugees escaping deplorable conditions or persecution, to the indigenous peoples whose resilience survived colonization, AANHPIs represent the strength and diversity of our nation. Today, some 26.5 million people of Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander descent live in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The AANHPI community has had a major impact on the legal profession. According to the ABA’s Profile of the Legal Profession, the number of Asian American lawyers has grown faster than any other demographic group, increasing from 2.5% of all lawyers in 2021 to 6% in 2023. AANHPIs are now represented throughout the federal government, from the 62 AANHPI Article III judges to our current vice president, Kamala Harris, who is of South Asian descent.

As a nation, we should ensure that the AANHPI stories are lifted up.  As lawyers, we should combat discrimination and hate that is too often targeted at this community. 

Studying our history and recognizing the contributions of the visionaries who came before us gives us a better understanding to move forward. Let us use this month to not only honor the achievements of the AANHPI people, many who overcame great hardship and discrimination to reach their goals, but also to dedicate ourselves to building bridges across cultures to create a future where all are treated equally and can succeed.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on X (formerly Twitter) @ABANews.