Closing Out The Third Annual Immigrant Heritage Month
Thursday marks the last day of the third annual Immigrant Heritage Month – a month that represents a nationwide effort to gather and share the inspirational stories of immigrants in America throughout June.
And for the past 30 days, you have really showed up. Your stories have inspired, touched, and humbled us. They’ve made us all the more grateful to live in a country known for its diversity, opportunity, vibrancy, and history of welcoming others to its shores. You have added to and enriched this uniquely American narrative.
This year was bigger than ever before. Dozens of artists and entertainers, elected officials representing 46 states and more than 250 corporate and non-profit partners teamed up to help us celebrate this year’s celebration on America’s history as a nation of immigrants.
We also launched a new awareness campaign called #IAmAnImmigrant, which combines the power of artists, social media and storytelling to encourage individuals to explore and celebrate their own immigrant heritage. The campaign featured a series of educational events, a new website, celebrity endorsements, t-shirts and an image generator to drive awareness of the monumental contributions that immigrants have made — and continue to make — to our nation for centuries.
We saw unprecedented success this year, engaging more people and highlighting more stories than ever before. And we have you to thank!
Here are some remarkable highlight’s from this year’s celebration:
- In 2016, the Immigrant Heritage Month hashtags generated more than 760 million impressions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, representing a ten-fold increase from 2014.
- Cabinet members, White House policymakers and others in the Obama administration expressed support through social media, with tweets coming from John King, United States Secretary of Education; Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- In 2016, Welcome.us and partners celebrated Immigrant Heritage Month with roughly 75 events across the country, including art shows, hackathons, film screenings, citizenship workshops and food festivals. A listing of events can be found here.
- Governors from 30 states, as well as 110 mayors and other elected officials representing 46 states issued proclamations recognizing June as Immigrant Heritage Month. Among those are Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (New York), Governor Greg Abbott (Texas), Governor Nikki Haley (South Carolina), Governor Tom Wolf (Pennsylvania), Governor Susana Martinez (New Mexico), Mayor Martin J. Walsh (Boston) and Mayor Sylvester Turner (Houston).
- Throughout the month, Welcome.us released 12 powerful videos starring celebrities like Adepero Oduye, Cristela Alonzo, Alan Cumming, Rosario Dawson and the cast of the hit Hulu television series East Los High, who are all immigrants themselves or the descendants of immigrants. Each of the celebrities said that their immigrant roots have helped them appreciate the diversity that defines the United States.
Other highlights from the third annual Immigrant Heritage Month include:
- Some of the biggest social influencers in the world helped spread the #IAmAnImmigrant message, including Wilmer Valderrama, Margaret Cho, Kerry Washington, George Lopez and Arianna Huffington. Other notable participants included Lupita Nyong’o, Harry Shum Jr., Mario Batali, Rosario Dawson, Laverne Cox, Estelle, Adepero Oduye, Akon, Dania Ramirez, Reza Aslan, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alan Cumming, Guillermo Diaz, Bobby Cannavale, Holly Robinson Peete, Mike Epps, Emily Deschanel, Cornell Brooks, Wentworth Miller, Jose Antonio Vargas, Mia Farrow, Jessica Chastain, Cristela Alonzo, Gina Rodriguez, Jill Scott, Jorge Ramos, Norman Lear, Russell Peters, Trina and Jencarlos Canela.
- A bipartisan group of congressional representatives, mayors, governors and other policymakers also showcased their support for Immigrant Heritage Month through social media, blog posts, events and proclamations, including Hillary Clinton, United States Secretary of Education John King, Senator Harry Reid, Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressman Joe Crowley, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Congressman Tony Cardenas, Congressman Joaquin Castro, Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Mayor Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles) and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Baltimore).
- More than 250 corporate and nonprofit partners joined Welcome.us to honor Immigrant Heritage Month. From creating content related to immigrant stories for blog and social platforms to hosting roughly 75 awareness events across the country, each partner found a unique way to elevate the #IAmAnImmigrant message to their followers and supporters. A few highlights below:
- Smirnoff brought the Global Street Art Project to the United States to encourage dialogue around inclusivity through public art. Throughout the month of June, Smirnoff partnered with Los Angeles street artist Morley to identify 10 individuals who each have unique perspectives and ties to immigration and turned their stories into pieces of art that will be displayed at 20 bus shelters throughout the city of Los Angeles through July 24th. One large-sized masterpiece will also be prominently displayed in the Venice Beach area.
- Airbnb celebrated the connections between America and the immigrants who have built it through blog posts that share the inspiring stories of hospitality and belonging. One of the posts recounted the life of Hans, a German immigrant who in addition to hosting travelers in the comfort of his home, also manages a New York bakery of homemade German delicacies.
- Along with Welcome.us, The California Endowment co-hosted a night of storytelling and musical performances on June 18 in Los Angeles. The “I Am An Immigrant: A Celebration of Our Stories” event powerfully elevated the voices and stories of local immigrants and their families to a crowd of roughly 800 attendees. The evening included appearances from Scandal star Guillermo DIaz, actress Cristela Alonzo, the cast of hit Hulu series East Los High, Glee actor Harry Shum, Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and 6-year-old Sophie Cruz, a young immigration activist.
- Congressman Jim Costa gave a speech on the House floor in recognition of Immigrant Heritage Month, citing that “[immigrant] families for generations have been and always will be a cornerstone of the place that we call the United States of America.”
- Following remarks by New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera, the New York State Senate passed a resolution recognizing Immigrant Heritage Month, adding that “for generations, New York has been the ultimate symbol of hope for countless individuals from around the world that have sought and continue seeking a better life for themselves and their families.” The California State Assembly also passed a resolution recognizing June as Immigrant Heritage Month.
- In a visual campaign that went viral, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation) photographed celebrities wearing the official #IAmAnImmigrant campaign t-shirt. The photos are hosted on the new website, which went live on June 1.
- A total of 5,434 people from all walks of life used the image generator to brand their social media profile pictures with the ‘I Am An Immigrant’ logo, including Congressman Steny Hoyer.
- Members of Congress — including Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congressman Brendan Boyle — and leaders representing more than 12 diverse ethnic community organizations joined Welcome.us at the third annual Immigrant Heritage Month Capitol Hill Reception on June 13 in Washington, DC.