90+ Historical Figures that Shaped Asian and American History

Discover Asian American & Pacific Islander History Makers in Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the Symbaloo Webmix below!

The Periodic Table of Asian American & Pacific Islander History

The Periodic Table of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) History recognizes and celebrates important historical figures across different professions, including activists, entertainers, athletes, authors, fashion designers, politicians, scientists, and entrepreneurs. Learn more about these history-making individuals and their achievements below! If you don’t have a Symbaloo account yet, you can create one for free here.

If you are looking for more educational resources you can find them in Symbaloo’s Education Webspace and Fun Webspace.

Symbaloo has compiled similar periodic tables for black history and women's history! Or, for other great edtech content, take a look at our posts of the best of ELA websitessocial studiescodingmathematicssciencevirtual learning toolsonline learning platforms, and even education podcasts!

AAPI - Politics

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris is an American politician and attorney. She is the first female vice president and the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history, as well as the first African American and first Asian American vice president.

Hiram Fong

Hiram Fong

Hiram Leong Fong was an American businessman, lawyer, and politician from Hawaii. Born to a sugar plantation Cantonese immigrant worker, Fong became the first Chinese-American and first Asian-American United States Senator, serving from 1959 to 1977.

Daniel Inouye

Daniel Inouye

Daniel Ken Inouye was an American lawyer and politician who served as a United States senator from Hawaii from 1963 until his death in 2012. Beginning in 1959, he was the first U.S. representative for the State of Hawaii.

Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth

Ladda Tammy Duckworth is an American politician and retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel serving as the junior United States senator from Illinois since 2017.

Daniel Akaka

Daniel Akaka

Daniel Kahikina Akaka was an American educator and politician who served as a United States Senator from Hawaii from 1990 to 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, Akaka was the first U.S. Senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry.

Pramila Jayapal

Pramila Jayapal

Pramila Jayapal is an American politician serving as the U.S. representative from Washington's 7th congressional district since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she represents most of Seattle, as well as some suburban areas of King County.

Mazie Hirono

Mazie Hirono

Mazie Keiko Hirono is an American lawyer and politician serving as the junior United States senator from Hawaii since 2013. She is a member of the Democratic Party.

Patsy Mink

Patsy Mink

Patsy Matsu Mink was an American attorney and politician from the U.S. state of Hawaii. Mink was a third-generation Japanese American, having been born and raised on the island of Maui.

Fred Korematsu

Fred Korematsu

Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu was an American civil rights activist who resisted the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Yuri Kochiyama

Yuri Kochiyama

Yuri Kochiyama was an American civil rights activist. Influenced by her Japanese-American family's experience in an American internment camp, her association with Malcolm X, and her Maoist beliefs.

Dalip Singh Saund

Dalip Singh Saund

Dalip Singh Saund “The Judge” was the first Asian American, the first Indian American, the first Sikh American, and the first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to be elected to the United States Congress.

AAPI - Science & Technology

Isabella Aiona Abbott

Isabella Aiona Abbott

Isabella Aiona Abbott was an educator, phycologist, and ethnobotanist from Hawaii. The first native Hawaiian woman to receive a PhD in science, she became a leading expert on Pacific marine algae.

Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla was an Indian-born American astronaut and mechanical engineer who was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was an Indian-American astrophysicist who spent his professional life in the United States. He shared the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics with William A. Fowler.

Ted Fujita

Ted Fujita

Tetsuya Theodore Fujita was a Japanese-American meteorologist whose research primarily focused on severe weather. His research at the University of Chicago on severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons revolutionized the knowledge of each.

Sunita Williams

Sunita Williams

Sunita Lyn Williams is an American astronaut and United States Navy officer who formerly held the records for most spacewalks by a woman and most spacewalk time for a woman.

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella

Satya Narayana Nadella is an Indian American business executive. He is the executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft, succeeding Steve Ballmer in 2014 as CEO and John W. Thompson in 2021 as chairman.

Narinder Singh Kapany

Narinder Singh Kapany

Narinder Singh Kapany was an Indian-American physicist best known for his work on fiber optics. He is credited with inventing fiber optics, and is considered the 'Father of Fiber Optics'.

Steven Chu

Steven Chu

Steven Chu is an American physicist and former government official. He is a Nobel laureate and was the 12th United States Secretary of Energy.

Min Chueh Chang

Min Chueh Chang

Min Chueh Chang, often credited as M.C. Chang, was a Chinese-American reproductive biologist. His specific area of study was the fertilisation process in mammalian reproduction.

Roseli Ocampo-Friedmann

Roseli Ocampo-Friedmann

Roseli Ocampo-Friedmann was a Filipino-American microbiologist and botanist who specialized in the study of cyanobacteria and extremophiles. Her work has been cited in work exploring the terraforming of Mars.

Fazlur Rahman Khan

Fazlur Rahman Khan

Fazlur Rahman Khan was a Bangladeshi-American structural engineer and architect, who initiated important structural systems for skyscrapers. Considered the "father of tubular designs" for high-rises, Khan was also a pioneer in computer-aided design.

Sundar Pichai

Sundar Pichai

Pichai Sundararajan, better known as Sundar Pichai, is an Indian-American business executive. He is the chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google.

AAPI - Entertainers & Athletes

Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan

Michelle Wingshan Kwan is an American retired figure skater. She is a two-time Olympic medalist, a five-time World champion and a nine-time U.S. champion. She is tied with Maribel Vinson for the all-time National Championship record.

Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma

Yo-Yo Ma is an American cellist. Born in Paris to Chinese parents and educated in New York City, he was a child prodigy, performing from the age of four and a half. 

Gemma Chan

Gemma Chan

Gemma Chan is an English actress. Born and raised in London, Chan attended the Newstead Wood School for Girls and studied law at Worcester College, Oxford before choosing to pursue a career in acting instead, enrolling at the Drama Centre London.

Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao

 Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao Sr., CLH is a Filipino politician and former professional boxer. Nicknamed "PacMan", he is regarded as one of the greatest professional boxers of all time.

Michael Chang

Michael Chang

Michael Te-Pei Chang is an American former professional tennis player. He is the youngest male player in history to win a Grand Slam tournament, winning the 1989 French Open at 17 years and 109 days old.

Steve Aoki

Steve Aoki

Steven Hiroyuki Aoki is an American DJ, record producer, music programmer, record executive, and heir to his father Rocky Aoki's fortune from the Benihana restaurant franchise.

Kal Penn

Kal Penn

Kalpen Suresh Modi, known professionally as Kal Penn, is an American actor, author, academic lecturer and former White House staff member in the Barack Obama administration.

Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Shu-How Lin is a Taiwanese-American professional basketball player for the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga

Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga is a Filipina singer and actress, best known for her roles in musical theater. At age 18, she won the Olivier and Theater World Awards and became the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award

Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa

Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa is an American actor and filmmaker. He made his acting debut as Jason Ioane on the syndicated action drama series Baywatch: Hawaii, and since 2016 has portrayed Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe. 

Li Na

Li Na

Li Na is a Chinese former professional tennis player. Over the course of her career, Li won nine WTA Tour singles titles including two Grand Slam singles titles at the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open.

Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko Alcroft is an American singer, songwriter, dancer and actress. Beginning dance lessons as a child, Kiyoko's interest in entertaining led to her working as a child model and actress.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

Dwayne Douglas Johnson, also known by his ring name The Rock, is an American actor, businessman, and former professional wrestler. He wrestled for WWE for eight years prior to pursuing an acting career.

Inbee Park

Inbee Park

Inbee Park is a South Korean professional golfer who plays on the LPGA Tour and the LPGA of Japan Tour. She has been the number one ranked player in the Women's World Golf Rankings for four separate runs.

Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong

Wong Liu-tsong, known professionally as Anna May Wong, was an American actress, considered to be the first Chinese American Hollywood movie star, as well as the first Chinese American actress to gain international recognition.

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong and American martial artist, martial arts instructor, actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and philosopher.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods is an American professional golfer. He is tied for first in PGA Tour wins, ranks second in men's major championships, and holds numerous golf records.

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling

Vera Mindy Chokalingam, known professionally as Mindy Kaling, is an American actress, comedian, screenwriter, producer, director, and author.

Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki Matsuyama is a Japanese professional golfer who plays on the PGA Tour. He is the first-ever Japanese professional golfer to win a men's major golf championship – the 2021 Masters Tournament.

Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu

Troy Aumua Polamalu is a former American football safety who played his entire twelve-year career for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League.

Riz Ahmed

Riz Ahmed

Rizwan Ahmed is a British Pakistani actor and rapper. He is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award, Primetime Emmy Award, National Board of Review Award, Independent Spirit Award, London Film Critics’ Circle Award and two British Independent Film Awards.

Vicki Manalo Draves

Vicki Manalo Draves

Victoria Manalo Draves was an American competitive diver. Draves became the first woman to be awarded gold medals for both the ten-meter platform and the three-meter springboard.

Sammy Lee

Sammy Lee

Samuel Lee was an American physician and diver. He was the first Asian American man to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States and the first man to win back-to-back gold medals in Olympic platform diving.

Ali Fazal

Ali Fazal

Ali Fazal is an Indian actor and model who primarily appears in Hindi films and television. He made his screen debut with a small role in the English language film The Other End of the Line before appearing in the American television miniseries Bollywood Hero.

Apolo Ohno

Apolo Ohno

Apolo Anton Ohno is an American retired short track speed skating competitor and an eight-time medalist in the Winter Olympics. Ohno is the most decorated American at the Winter Olympics and was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2019.

Kristi Yamaguchi

Kristi Yamaguchi

Kristine Tsuya Yamaguchi is an American former figure skater. In ladies' singles, Yamaguchi is the 1992 Olympic champion, a two-time World champion, and the 1992 U.S. champion.

Hasan Minhaj

Hasan Minhaj

Hasan Minhaj is an American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host of Indian descent. His Netflix show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj won two Peabody Awards and two Webby Awards.

Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki, also known mononymously as Ichiro, is a Japanese former professional baseball outfielder who played professionally for 28 seasons. 

Jim Paek

Jim Paek

Jim Paek is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, who is currently the director of hockey for the Korea Ice Hockey Association and head coach of the South Korean national team.

AAPI - Historical Figures

Emperor Meiji

Emperor Meiji

Emperor Meiji, also called Meiji the Great or Meiji the Good, was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India's independence from British rule, and to later inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

Bhumibol Adulyadej

Bhumibol Adulyadej

Bhumibol Adulyadej, conferred with the title King Bhumibol the Great in 1987, was the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri dynasty, titled Rama IX.

Elizabeth Choy

Elizabeth Choy

Elizabeth Choy Su-Moi OBE was a Singaporean educator and councillor who is regarded as a war heroine in Singapore. Along with her husband, Choy Khun Heng, she supplied medicine, money and messages to prisoners-of-war interned in Changi Prison when the Japanese occupied Singapore during World War II.

Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal

José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda was a Filipino nationalist, writer and polymath active at the end of the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines. He is considered the national hero of the Philippines.

AAPI - Filmmakers

Chloé Zhao

Chloé Zhao

Chloé Zhao is a Chinese-born filmmaker. Zhao's debut feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, premiered at Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and earned a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.

Bong Joon-ho

Bong Joon-ho

Bong Joon-ho is a South Korean film director, producer and screenwriter. The recipient of three Academy Awards, his filmography is characterized by emphasis on social themes, genre-mixing, black humor, and sudden tone shifts.

Lulu Wang

Lulu Wang

Lulu Wang is a Chinese-born American filmmaker. She is best known for writing and directing the comedy-drama films Posthumous and The Farewell. For the latter, she received the Independent Spirit Award for Best Film and the film was named one of the top ten films of 2019 by the American Film Institute.

Ang Lee

Ang Lee

Ang Lee OBS is a Taiwanese filmmaker. Born in the Pingtung County of southern Taiwan, Lee was educated in Taiwan and later in the United States. During his filmmaking career he has received international critical and popular acclaim and a range of accolades.

Jon M Chu

Jon M Chu

Jonathan Murray Chu is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is best known as the director of 2018's Crazy Rich Asians, the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority cast of Asian descent in a modern setting since The Joy Luck Club in 1993.

M. Night Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan

Manoj Nelliyattu "M. Night" Shyamalan is an Indian-American filmmaker and actor. He is best known for making original films with contemporary supernatural plots and twist endings. He was born in Mahé, India, and raised in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania. The cumulative gross of his films exceeds $3.3 billion globally.

Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi

Taika David Cohen ONZM, known professionally as Taika Waititi, is a New Zealand filmmaker, actor and comedian. He is a recipient of an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Grammy Award, and has received two nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Bing Liu

Bing Liu

Bing Liu is a Chinese-American director and cinematographer. He is best known for directing the documentary Minding the Gap, which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 91st Academy Awards.

Justin Chon

Justin Chon

Justin Jitae Chon is an American actor, director, and YouTube personality. He has directed three films, Gook, Ms. Purple, & Blue Bayou. He is also known for portraying Eric Yorkie in The Twilight Saga film series. He is a member of the K-pop parody group Boys Generally Asian.

Wayne Wang

Wayne Wang

Wayne Wang is a Hong Kong–American director, producer, and screenwriter. Considered a pioneer of Asian-American cinema, he was one of the first Chinese-American filmmakers to gain a major foothold in Hollywood.

AAPI - Designers

Vera Wang

Vera Wang

Vera Ellen Wang is an American fashion designer. Wang was hired to be an editor at Vogue immediately upon graduation from Sarah Lawrence College, making her the youngest editor at that magazine.

Phillip Lim

Phillip Lim

Phillip Lim is an American fashion designer of Chinese descent whose parents immigrated to America from Thailand during the Cambodian genocide. Lim co-founded and worked at the Los Angeles-based fashion label Development from 2000 to 2004.

Prabal Gurung

Prabal Gurung

Prabal Gurung is an American fashion designer who was born in Singapore and was raised in Kathmandu, Nepal. After beginning his design career in New Delhi, he moved to New York to finish his studies at Parsons the New School for Design.

Derek Lam

Derek Lam

Derek Lam is an American fashion designer. In addition to designing his own line, Lam was Tod's creative director for ready-to-wear and accessories from 2005 until 2010.

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu is a Taiwanese-Canadian artist and fashion designer based in New York City. Born in Taiwan and raised in Vancouver, he studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design, and trained under Narciso Rodriguez before launching his own line.

Thakoon Panichgul

Thakoon Panichgul

Panichgul started his career as a fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar, covering runway designers and chasing style news. In 2004, Panichgul created his first ready-to-wear collection centered on pieces that were, at once, beautiful and easy to wear.

AAPI - Entrepreneurs

Eric Yuan

Eric Yuan

Eric S. Yuan is a Chinese-American billionaire businessman, engineer, and the chief executive officer and founder of Zoom Video Communications, of which he owns 22%.

Jensen Huang

Jensen Huang

Jen-Hsun "Jensen" Huang is a Taiwanese-American billionaire business magnate, electrical engineer, and co-founder of Nvidia Corporation, where he currently serves as president and CEO.

Shahid Khan

Shahid Khan

Shahid Rafiq Khan is a Pakistani-American billionaire businessman and sports tycoon. He is the owner of Flex-N-Gate, an American automotive company.

David Sun

David Sun

David Sun is a Taiwanese-American billionaire businessman, co-founder and COO of Kingston Technology.

Vinod Khosla

Vinod Khosla

Vinod Khosla is an Indian-American billionaire businessman and venture capitalist. He is a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and the founder of Khosla Ventures.

Jerry Yang

Jerry Yang

Jerry Chih-Yuan Yang is a Taiwanese-American billionaire computer programmer, internet entrepreneur, and venture capitalist. 

Symbaloo

Symbaloo is the perfect platform to save, organize, and share Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Resources for your students. Use tiles to save your favorite Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Quotes and Stories into a grid-like structure called a “webmix”. Then, share that webmix in any number of ways!

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