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Washington: US President Joe Biden has signed into law a bill to explore the possibility of establishing a museum of Asian Pacific American history and culture, a move which will recognize and document the history and culture of Indian Americans.

“I am honoured to sign into law something that is long overdue, and — the National Museum of Asian and Pacific American History and Culture here in Washington, DC,” he said during the sign-in ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Monday.

The historic event was also addressed by Vice President Kamala Harris who spoke about her Indian roots. Among others, it was attended by Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and eminent Indian Americans like Ajay Jain Bhutoria and Kamal Kalsi. In her remarks, Harris said when her mother was 19-years-old, she came to the United States from India to become a breast cancer researcher. “Growing up, my mother made sure that my sister Maya and I learnt of the important glorious history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in America. Because that, of course, is part of the history of America,” she said.

“To teach this history is to help all of us as Americans understand where we come from and who we are. The National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture will teach and tell the story of our country,” she said. “This is a story about heroes who shaped our nation for the better, from the South Asian Americans who helped transform farming up and down the Pacific coast, to the Japanese Americans who defended our freedom during World War II, to the Chinese American garment workers who marched through the streets of New York 40 years ago to win better pay and benefits for all workers,” the vice president said.

Harris said this is also a story about some of the country’s darkest moments like the Chinese Exclusion Act, internment of Japanese Americans, murder of Vincent Chin, discrimination against South Asian Americans after 9/11, and today’s “epidemic of hate”, which is fuelling violent acts against many communities, including the AA and NHPI community. Observing that it is clear that the battle for the soul of America continues, Biden asserted that is why a museum like this is going to matter so much. “Museums of this magnitude and consequence are going to inspire and educate. More than anything else, it is going to help people see themselves in the story of America — a story that makes us a better America and it has made us a better America,” Biden said.

Eminent Indian American Bhutoria, who attended the event, welcomed the move to establish a museum for the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. “The passage of the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture Act, is a historic moment for our community. This museum will teach and tell the story of our heroes about Asian Americans and the story of America — a story which will help make America better,” he said.

“This bill will help celebrate diversity of cultures within the AA and NHPI communities, and highlight the history in how the AANHPI community has helped shape the economic, cultural and social growth of America and contributed immensely to strengthen the fabric of our nation,” Bhutoria said. “South Asian Americans have contributed hugely in the field of technology, healthcare, growth of small businesses, immigration, political growth and much more!” he added.


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Author: Howard Caldwell