Arab America Hosts Members of Congress, Dignitaries, Community Leaders for Special Event Celebrating National Arab American Heritage Month
Compiled by Arab America
On Tuesday, April 30th, Arab America hosted a historic reception commemorating National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) with dignitaries and community leaders in Washington, DC.
See a Video of the Event here:
For Photos of the Event Click Here.
The event was attended by over 300 people with several members of Congress attending including: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI), Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), Democratic Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (SC), Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI), Rep.Yvette Clarke (NY), Rep. Judy Chu (CA), Progressive Caucus Deputy Whip, Rep. Debra Haaland (NM), Rep. Yvette Calrk (NY), the Ambassador of the Arab League, Salah Sarhan, and the Mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser.
The event began with a reception featuring an exposé of Arab culture and many of the guests wearing traditional Arab fashions. The Yemeni Coffee Station was a popular attraction where attendees could sip authentic Yemeni coffee from the famous Yemeni coffee company, Port of Mokha. After drinking their coffee, guests had the opportunity to stop at the Fortune Telling Station where readers were on hand to read coffee cups. There were lines at the Henna Station where classic Arab Mehndi designs were featured. The reception also featured a twelve-foot-long lavish falafel bar with all the toppings including, assorted pickles, hummus, and tabouleh (additional food on the second level). In addition, guests got treated to authentic Arab music at the Dabke station which featured live Arab music performed by Syrian Oudist/Vocalist Muaz Edriss and his band of violinists and percussionists. Beverages featured from Palestine included Bethlehem wine, Birzeit beer, and Ramallah arak provided by Terra Sancta.
Following the reception, guests were directed upstairs to the second level of the venue where they witnessed an authentic surprise Zeffi for Palestinian American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib by an entourage of over thirty people and several percussionists.
The event was then officially opened by Warren David, president of Arab America, who welcomed guests and announced that through the efforts, the Arab American community made history when Arab America, received over 105 proclamations commemorating National Arab American Heritage Month. He went on to say, this new milestone was the result of Arab America’s grassroots effort during the month of April, with over eighty national advisory committee members from twenty-eight states gathering proclamations and citations.
Dr. Amal David, director of operations and community outreach, introduced her former high school student, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI), and spoke about her as a student in the Detroit Public School system and her desire to always succeed. Tlaib went on to give an inspirational talk stating that we should never change our views to conform, “You don’t have to change anything about yourself, she said, “I want you to believe that, don’t let them believe that our position around Palestinian rights is crazy, it isn’t, it’s about human dignity.”
Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) next spoke about the tough times we are experiencing as a nation including unconstitutional travel bans and inflammatory language directed against Arabs and Muslims. She said, “Not only has Rashida been courageous, we have other members who have been as well, and when I think of Congresswoman Omar and what has been said about her, shame on them, shame on them.” she went on to say, “We’re here to say we celebrate the Arab American community and stand together. I’m proud to stand with you.” Finally, she spoke of her efforts to get the U.S. out of Yemen and her desire to see the war ended.
Democratic Majority Whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn (SC) spoke of his “tremendous empathy” with Arab Americans in their struggles, “I know what it is to be a part of this country. And I also know that this country is a great country.” He went on to state that the challenge is to make this country’s greatness apply fairly and equitably to all of its citizens.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA) elaborated on her new legislation which would ensure “that no other president will target a group like (Muslims) again.” The “No Ban Act” would repeal the Muslim Ban. Chu reported that already100 members of Congress were co-sponsoring the legislation.
This is a time where we can reflect on the rich heritage of Arab Americans in our country said Progressive Caucus Deputy Whip, Congresswoman Debra Haaland (NM). “Represented by countless musicians, doctors, artists scientists, and multiple Nobel laureates, Arab Americans have made extraordinary contributions to our county since the first major wave of immigrants arrived here more than a century ago.”
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser presented a proclamation on behalf of the 700,00 residents of the District of Columbia and noted the many contributions by Arab Americans.
Ambassador of the Arab League, Salah Sarhan stated he was very pleased to see so many from Congress and the Mayor of Washington DC. He elaborated that the Arab League has dedicated a bureau for Arab expatriates in Cairo and since 2012 the Arab League has celebrated the Arab American heritage with a goal of developing a strong relationship with the Arab American community and highlighting the positive contributions of Arab Americans.
As a signature circle sponsor of the event, Omar Baddar, Deputy Executive Director of the Arab American Institute announced there is support on the hill by several members of Congress to pass a resolution proclaiming National Arab American Heritage Month during the month of April.
“I’m passionate when I look in the eyes of my neighbors who come from the Middle East or other Arab countries, like my parents, they have come to seek the American dream,” said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY). She spoke about the issues of bullying in schools and hate crimes which have impacted the Arab stereotype. “Violence and crimes motivated by prejudice are unfortunately a daily reality that we all face. So it is important that we stand together in our humanity to fight back so that our children in this society will not inherit a society like the one we have inherited.”
Dr. Amal David recognized the members of the national advisory committee who were responsible for securing over one-hundred proclamations and resolutions from throughout the U.S. Several members of the committee were at the event including (Mayor) Tom Lazieh of Rhode Island. She also recognized the interns and the twenty-two volunteers who helped to make the event possible.
Moreover, the event included a display of Arab-inspired paintings from (Lebanese) Arab American artist, Helen Zughaib. Music for the evening was provided by Muaz Edriss and his band. Dabke Dancers Michael Hyland and Fuad Saleh performed intricate steps.
Lastly, authentic Arab cuisine was served which included tasty dishes such as fatayer, kibbeh, falafel, and grape leaves, tabouleh, hummus, and an assortment of desserts.
From local public servants to business owners to journalists, Arab America was pleased to host those who share our admiration of the Arab culture and dedication to the Arab American community. We look forward to many more joyous occasions celebrating NAAHM in the years to come.
National Arab American Heritage Month