ORLANDO, Fla. – Traces of Central Florida’s great and diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander population can be found everywhere—in our restaurants, businesses, college campuses and government offices.
From U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, the first Vietnamese American elected to Congress, to JEFRË, a Filipino American artist crafting award-winning pieces in Orlando, to Johnny Nguyen, a Kennedy Space Center lunar station engineer born to Vietnamese refugees, there is no shortage of Asian American and Pacific Islander stories our community can tell.
May marks the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time to honor those living in the U.S. who identify as Asian and Pacific Islander. News 6 aims to celebrate and amplify our own Asian American and Pacific Islander voices—the movers, shakers and everyone in between—that make Central Florida what it is.
Many collections of countries and cultures, spanning from the Middle East to the Pacific Islands, fall under the label of Asian American. They are a proud and sundry group that proves to be anything but a monolith. The largest Asian American and Pacific Islander ethnic groups in Florida include Indian, Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese, according to a 2018 report conducted by AAPI Data.
Orange County has the second largest Asian American and Pacific Islander population in Florida, according to AAPI Data. Furthermore, 2019 U.S. Census Bureau statistics show about 5% of Asian American residents call Central Florida home and represent nearly double the state’s total Asian American and Pacific Islander population.
That influence is written all over the Mills 50 District, nicknamed Little Saigon for the bevy of Vietnamese shops and restaurants built and run by Asian American refugees and immigrants as far back as the 1970s.
Along the same street, Orlando residents can pop into the Asia Trend Community Learning Center and explore Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage by banging the Japanese Taiko drum, stepping along to traditional Vietnamese dances, and sharpening their Asian language skills.