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Celebration of Asian Americans: Prominent Individuals

Spotlighting Asian American & Pacific Islanders' Heritage, History, and Contributions

Asian Americans in Politics, Law and the Military


  Kamala Harris - Vice President of the United States. First woman, African American, and South Asian American to serve as VP.


  Senator Tammy Duckworth - U.S Senator from Illinois.


  Hiram Fong - American businessman, lawyer, and politician from Hawaii. First Asian-American U.S. Senator, serving from 1959-1977. 


  Patsy Mink - First Asian-American woman to be elected to congress.


  Daniel Inouye - First U.S Representative from Hawaii, U.S Senator from 1964 to 2012.


  Eric Shinseki - First Asian-American four-star general, and the first Asian-American Secretary of Veterans Affairs.


  Lance Ito - judge best known for presiding over the criminal trial for the O. J. Simpson murder case


  Andrew Yang - 2020 presidential candidate and current candidate for New York City mayor, entrepreneur, politician, and philanthropist.


  Dalip Singh Saund First South-Asian American, first Indian-American, first Sikh-American, and first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to be elected to Congress.


  Preet Bharara - lawyer, author, and former federal prosecutor who served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017


  Viet Xuan Luong - a United States Army major general, the first Vietnamese born American officer promoted to general officer rank, currently the Commanding General for United States Army, Japan/I Corps Forward


  Jacqueline Nguyen - Vietnamese-American circuit judge, currently serving on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


Asian Americans in Science

  Dr. David Ho - a Taiwanese-American AIDS researcher, physician, and virologist who has made a number of scientific contributions to the understanding and treatment of HIV infection


  Roger Tsien - biochemist and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein


  Dr. Steven Chu - American physicist, Nobel laureate, and the 12th United States Secretary of Energy.

Asian Americans in Sports

  Bruce LeeChinese American martial artist, actor, director, martial arts instructor and philosopher


  Apolo Ohno - short track speed skater, most decorated American Winter Olympian (two gold, two silver, four bronze medals)


  Dat Nguyen -  former linebacker who played in the NFL for seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and in college for Texas A&M University


  Jeremy Lin - professional basketball player and the first Asian American to win an NBA championship (Toronto Raptors, 2019)


  Kristi Yamaguchi - former figure skater, Olympic champion (Albertville, 1992) and two-time World champion (1991 and 1992)


  Michael Chang - professional tennis player, youngest player to win a Grand Slam Tournament 1989 French Open)


  Erik Spoelstra - Basketball coach for the Miami Heat in the NBA, first Asian-American head coach to win an NBA championship


  Norm Chow - football coach and former player, has coached at the high school, college and professional levels

Asian Americans in the Performing Arts

  Anna May Wong - American actress, considered to be the first Chinese American Hollywood movie star.  Her varied career spanned silent film, sound film, television, stage, and radio.


  Haing S. Ngor - Cambodian American gynecologist, obstetrician, actor and author. Won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his roll in The Killing Fields.


  Miyoshi Umeki - Japanese-American singer and actress.  Umeki was a Tony Award and Golden Globe nominated actress and the first Asian woman to win an Academy Award for acting.


  George Takei - actor, author, and activist best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the television series Star Trek.


  Mindy Kaling - actress, comedian, writer, producer, and director, star of The Office and creator of The Mindy Project


  Steven Yeun - actor best known for The Walking Dead, first Asian-American to be nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his role in Minari


  Margaret Cho - actress, musician, stand-up comedian, fashion designer and author


  Steve Aoki - DJ, record producer, music programmer, record executive, and founder of the Steve Aoki Charitable Fund.


  Yo-Yo Ma - cellist, child prodigy, performed as a soloist with orchestras around the world, recorded more than 90 albums and received 18 Grammy Awards

Asian Americans in Literature

  Amy Tan - author known for the novel The Joy Luck Club, her other works include, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning and The Valley of Amazement


  Celeste Ng - author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I've Never Told You


  Viet Thanh Nguyen - Vietnamese-American, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Sympathizer, his other works include, The Refugees and The Committed.


  Jhumpa Lahiri -  Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Interpreter of Maladies, as well as, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth and The Lowlands


  Lan Cao - author of Monkey Bridge and The Lotus and the Storm, also a professor of Law at Chapman University



  Jenny Han - author of young adult fiction and children's fiction, best known for writing the To All the Boys series


  Ha Jin - Chinese-American poet and novelist, his poetry is associated with the Misty Poetry movement.


  Ocean Vuong - Vietnamese-American poet, essayist and novelist, his debut novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, was published in 2019

Asian Americans in Arts and Design

  Ang Lee - award winning director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain and The Life of Pi


  Chloe Zhao - writer, director, producer, first woman of color to win an Academy Award for Best Director


  Vera Wang - fashion designer, designs include everything from high end gowns to casual wear, received the Council of Fashion Designers of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013


  An My Le - Vietnamese American photographer, and professor at Bard College, 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and recipient of the Tiffany Comfort Foundation Fellowship and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship among others.


  Maya Lin - designer and sculptor, won national recognition in 1981 for her design of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C


Prominent Individuals: Reading List