Photo by Emma Hayakawa | The Independent Florida Alligator
When she was a student at William S. Talbot Elementary, Keira Lee was only one of three Asian American children at the school. Without proper representation in the classroom, tales from her Chinese immigrant grandparents served as the only source of Asian American history education she received as a child.
“I mostly learned about my culture through my family,” Lee said.
Now an 18-year-old Buchholz High School senior, Lee applied what she’s learned from her family to launch the Asian American Student Alliance, an organization dedicated to providing a safe space for her high school’s Asian American and Pacific Islander student population.
A new bill signed into Florida law could allow students like Lee to see their efforts reflected on a statewide level with the introduction of AAPI history into the public school system.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1537 into law May 9, requiring AAPI history in K-12 curriculum. The legislation’s enactment marks a milestone in a two-year-long battle to make AAPI history a mandatory part of Florida public school education. Make Us Visible Florida Director Mimi Chan led the state’s effort to integrate AAPI history into K-12 classrooms.
“It took a lot of work and determination in order to get this passed,” Chan said. “Asian American history is American history.”