Queens College to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Queens College
The Queens College campus in Flushing. (Courtesy of Queens College)

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May, Queens College will offer a full schedule of virtual events highlighting the history and cultural contributions of the diverse AAPI community and addressing the recent precipitous rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the United States.  

“The AAPI community is a vital part of the college, and the Borough of Queens,” said Queens College President Frank Wu. “After a year in which Asians and Asian Americans have found themselves targeted in increasingly appalling numbers, it’s more important than ever to celebrate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, appreciate our different legacies, and recognize what all of us—I am a proud son of Chinese immigrants—add to the vitality of our country.”

Programs will include concerts, panel discussions and a video in which award-winning late photographer Corky Lee, a Queens College alumnus who died earlier this year of COVID-19, showcases and discusses his work. All events are open to the public. A complete listing of the events is posted here.

 The programming kicks off on Saturday, May 1, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. with Creating Life Stories Through Photograph: South Asian American Experience, a workshop presented by Benjamin Rosenthal Library, the Queens Public Library, and Queens Memory. 

Over three consecutive Saturdays, photographer Mahnoor Nasir Khan will help participants use photography to examine their lives, identity, family history, connection to their origin country, memories and home. Learn more about the workshop here.

 On Sunday, May 2, from 12:30 to 2:30 pm, Borough President Donovan Richards, Congressmember Grace Meng, Queens College President Wu, and others will lead We Belong Here: Queens Rises Against Hate, a rally and march starting in front of Flushing Town Hall, at 137-35 Northern Blvd., in Flushing.

Concerts presented in connection with AAPI Heritage Month will explore varied genres. 

The Queens College Gamelan Ensemble—a percussion orchestra—will perform traditional Balinese music on Wednesday, May 5, from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. Jazz drummer, composer, and Aaron Copland School of Music alumna Wen-Ting Wu will be heard playing her own compositions on Wednesday, May 26, at 7 p.m. The following evening at 7 p.m., Brooklyn Raga Massive will take the virtual stage in a program that mixes Indian classical and contemporary jazz.

 Anti-Asian Discrimination: Roots and Interventions, one of several panel discussions on the calendar, will feature members of the Queens College faculty. Madhulika Khandelwal, director of the Asian/American Center, will facilitate the discussion and make a presentation. Her fellow panelists will be Economics Professor Kevin Shih and Urban Studies Professor Do Jun Lee.

Also presented in conjunction with AAPI Heritage Month at Queens College is Thirty Years of Asia America, a video with images and commentary by the late photojournalist Corky Lee, who referred to himself as the “undisputed unofficial Asian American Photographer Laureate.”