Queens lawmaker requests vote on bill to create first National Asian American Museum

Photo courtesy of Rep. Grace Meng’s office

Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng is calling for a vote on her bill that would establish the first national museum dedicated to preserving the history, culture and accomplishments of Asian Pacific Americans. 

Meng sent a letter to Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, to make her bill the first measure that the panel takes up in January. If the legislation is approved by the committee, it would then head for a vote on the floor of the House. 

According to the congresswoman, the story of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) is interwoven within the history of America, but is “forgotten or ignored in the greater narrative of American history.” 

“Our experiences — both good and bad — provide an opportunity for us to celebrate our accomplishments, honor the challenges we have overcome, and press towards a more perfect union,” the letter said. 

Meng’s request follows her appearance earlier this month before a Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing where she testified in support of her bill. The hearing also included supportive testimony from journalist Lisa Ling and Stop AAPI Hate Co-Founder Dr. Russell Jeung. The House Natural Resources Committee is the panel that has jurisdiction over this issue.

Meng’s bill, The Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture Act, would create a panel of individuals with various expertise in museum planning or APA research and culture to look into the viability of establishing, maintaining, funding and operating a facility in the nation’s capital, possibly as part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the world’s largest museum and research complex. 

The history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is filled with immense contributions and sadly embedded with stories of disenfranchisement, Meng said. 

“Museums are gateways to learning about ourselves, our communities and our history. They provide space to memorialize the accomplishments of ancestors, learn from the past, and be inspired by the richness of where our country can go,” Meng said. “From the thousands of Asian immigrants who helped build vital pieces of U.S. infrastructure, to the thousands who were denied entry and citizenship because of immigration laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act, AAPIs have shaped and been shaped by America for generations.”

According to Meng, the stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders provide an opportunity to celebrate rich American history, the challenges they have overcome, and a step forward in unity.