We are fortunate to have such a diverse and eclectic membership. It serves as a positive reminder that we represent an accurate cross-section of the residents we serve. The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is a vital part of the broad tapestry that is AFT-Maryland. We are grateful for our members from a community who work alongside other public employees to help make Maryland communities what they are today.
We recognize that AAPI is a broad term that encompasses many different cultures, ethnicities, customs, and traditions. That term and variations of it attempt to account for the nearly 24 million Americans who have roots across the Asian Pacific diaspora. These cultural ties bind people from wide-ranging locales such as East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Hawaii, Samoa, Guam, Fiji, Tonga, Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and other Pacific islands. For AFT-Maryland, the tie that binds us all is our commitment to public service via public employment and specifically our commitment to Maryland and its local jurisdictions.
Our AAPI family is no stranger to labor. East Asian immigrants, primarily from China, Japan, and the Philippines famously toiled in the mid 19th-century, contributing to the construction of the transcontinental railroad as well as other industrial sectors such as mining and agriculture. In the late 20th century, the AFL-CIO established the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance to ensure that AAPI workers’ specific concerns were always kept front of mind as the labor movement progressed. The AFT has also established its own AAPI Task Force in an effort to ensure that our AAPI members have a seat at the table and their voices are heard. This task force includes our own Rogie Legaspie, AFT-Maryland Board member and member of the Baltimore Teachers Union.
That is also why on behalf of our state federation members, executive board, and staff, I wish everyone a Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.