Heritage Month: A Tribute to Arab American Organizations
BY: Patrick Nahhas/Contributing Writer and Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
Across the country there are numerous Arab American organizations that contribute to local and national communities of all religions, nationalities, professions, and interests. Here are some of the organizations working to build stronger communities everywhere:
- One of the most recognizable Arab American organizations is ACCESS, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. For more than 40 years, ACCESS has been giving social, health, and education services to the Arab American community of metro Detroit, while building a network of Arab American professionals, and offering philanthropic opportunities for those willing to give back. ACCESSCal is a branch ACCESS that is working to improve the conditions of new and established Arab American families in California who make up the largest Arab American population in the country.
- Also based in Dearborn is The National Arab American Museum, which opened in 2005 and is solely devoted to Arab American history and culture. On top of the aspect of knowledge, the goal of the museum is to defeat false stereotypes about the Arab American community, and has largely succeeded in doing so.
- The Arab American Institute (AAI) is an advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. Its goals include: Guiding Arab American political candidates, promoting voting rights, protecting immigrant rights, and combatting discrimination. AAI also helps to track the number of Arabs living in the U.S. because Americans of Arab descent are still not recognized as a distinct community.
- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) seeks to empower Arab Americans, defend the rights of all, and promote Arabism. The ADC Legal Department offers advising in discrimination cases, including hundreds post 9-11. Since its founding in 1980, it has lobbied often times successfully for official government and other positions to be changed on unfair rulings of Arab Americans.
- The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) and the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) are two organizations that are led by Arab Americans. They both work to promote relations between the U.S. and the Arab World through business, economic cooperation, and policy promotion. They hold many events throughout the year aimed at educating the public on their research and work in the U.S. and Arab World.
- The Alif Institute, a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, was established in 2004. Alif utilizes arts and culture to bring people together; its main goal is to promote understanding and appreciation of Arab culture. This includes Arabic language programs, galas, cultural festivals, and more.
- The Arab American Action Network is a Chicago community center founded in 1995 that aims to strengthen the relationship between Arab immigrants coming to the U.S. and the already present community in Chicago. This includes involvement with the Illinois Department of Human Services to help out potentially disadvantaged Arab Americans, as well as English language programs.
- The Network of Arab-American Professionals (NAAP) was founded in 2001 in Washington, DC as a means to provide Arab students an opportunity to continue community activism after graduation. Today, NAAP excels in promoting professional networking and interaction amongst Arabs serving the community, supporting Arab students, and educating people of all backgrounds in America about Arab culture.
- The National Arab American Medical Association (NAAMA), based in Birmingham, Michigan, is the largest international organization of Arab American physicians and medical students. Founded in 1975, NAAMA has been a force in assisting students and professionals with educational exchanges, medical assistances programs, as well as emergency aid in areas of violence, scholarships, and more. Lastly, the organization strives to maintain and promote good health amongst the Arab American community.
- The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) is a non-profit professional organization, which represents thousands of Syrian-American medical professionals in the U.S. SAMS is especially significant because of the humanitarian assistance it provides to medical experts in the Levant and Turkey who are aiding those affected by the current humanitarian crises occurring in the region.
- The Rene Moawad Foundation (RMF) was started by the former President of Lebanon’s wife, Nayla Moawad, after her husband’s assassination in 1989. Based in Washington DC, the Foundation’s goal is to carry out Mr. Moawads goal and dedication to a united Arab World by furthering the goals of dialogue, peace, and social justice.
- The American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL), located in Washington, DC, serves to provide a national structure on nonsectarian and nonpartisan lines with the goal of national unity and sovereignty for a free and democratic Lebanon. The Task Force works to encourage the U.S. in extending its efforts to promote peaceful settlements of the current problems facing Lebanon, as well as similar missions for the Republic of Lebanon.
- The National Arab American Association of Engineers and Architects (NAAAEA) is an organization dedicated to helping, strengthening, empowering, and inspiring its members to continue to benefit the community through their work. NAAAEA provides career opportunities, educational programs, technical exchange, community service, and more. It is a non-political and non-religious organization working to maintain high ethnical standards in the engineering community.
- The National Arab American Bar Association (NAABA) is another professional organization, which is an online community of Arab attorneys in the U.S. and the Arab World. NAABA works to bring together members of the law community for networking and job opportunities, law student mentoring, and exchange of ideas and experiences that help members understand differences in law systems across the world.
- The Arab American Cultural and Community Center (AACCC) is a Houston-based hub for social and cultural activities for the Arab American community in the Houston area, regardless of background. The Center serves to bring together all who associate and identify as being Arab American.
- Lastly, Arab Americans have organizations based on their home cities and villages in the Arab World. The oldest Arab American village organization in the U.S. is the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine (AFRP), which was founded in 1959 by young students from Ramallah who wanted to unite the diaspora. Today, AFRP has chapters all over the country and serves as a cultural, charitable, and educational organization for its descendants.
This is only a short list of all the great Arab American organizations that have been improving their local Arab communities, as well as people of all backgrounds, for decades in this country. Others include: the American Syrian Arab Cultural Association, the National Arab American Women’s Association, the Arab American Association of New York, the Southern Federation of Syrian Lebanese American clubs, the Karoun Village Society, and many more. Year by year, a stronger, more united Arab American community grows because of the selfless missions of these organizations and others.