Over 500 Online Participants Commemorate National Arab American Heritage Month 2020
Compiled by Arab America
On Sunday, April 26th, the Arab America Foundation hosted an unprecedented online commemoration for National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) with members of Congress, cultural artists, and members from the Arab American community. The event was attended by over 500 registrants.
The event was opened by Warren David (president of Arab America) and Dr. Amal David (director of operations and outreach, Arab America). They both welcomed guests, spoke about the significance of National Arab American Heritage Month, and the contributions of Arab Americans, especially, in the fields of public service, medicine, law enforcement, and restaurants and grocery businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Adel Korkor, chairman of the Arab America Foundation and a lead sponsor of the event, conveyed his greetings on behalf of the board of directors and spoke of the importance of preserving the Arab heritage through the efforts of initiatives such as National Arab American Heritage Month.
Warren David expressed the Foundation’s appreciation to the 22 governors who each proclaimed April to be National Arab American Heritage Month and with Amal, cited the following states which participated: Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington DC. Other governors promised to submit their proclamations when they become less busy with the pandemic.
Dr. Amal David thanked members of the national advisory committee (teams from 15 states) who were responsible for securing and providing resources such as proclamations from state governors, the selection of Arab American heroes in wake of the pandemic, content about Arab heritage, social media posts, and educational resources. In addition to the above, about 100 volunteers were thanked, and also the interns and board members. Also, see the recognition of sponsors below.
After the recognitions, the most important segment of the program was introduced: 29 Arab American medical heroes and some businesses that are taking an active role in the battle against COVID-19. The actual number is really in the hundreds. Both Warren, Amal, and speakers expressed deep appreciation to all of them, see link below the picture!
Action Plan for National Arab American Heritage Month
It was also noted that the Arab America Foundation developed an Educator’s Curriculum Kit highlighting the history of Arab migration to America, geographic understanding of the Arab world, Arab American diversity in faith and language, interesting customs and traditions, issues affecting our community, and our many achievements in business, politics, education, and more. This kit was e-mailed to 4,000 educators and has been available online for teachers and parents during this critical time. A smaller version Understanding the Arab American Community is also available for presentation purposes. In addition, Arab America Foundation compiled a resource guide listing resources and content regarding Arab American identity and culture. Also, an effort was made to feature compelling stories of Arab Americans who are giving back to their communities during the coronavirus crisis on the blog page.
Moreover, Nabeel Al Nawaira, a member of the Advisory Committee, has been featuring a special and creative segment, “Arabic Word of the Day” on all social media platforms. The segment recites a new word each day in various Arabic dialects.
Special Guests Who Attended
Several members of Congress attended, including Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Congressman Luis Correa (CA-46), Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-1).
Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow issues statement on National Arab American Heritage Month and Ramadan
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib with her message for National Arab American Heritage Month
Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence salutes Arab American Heritage Month
Congressman Jamie Raskin with his message for National Arab American Heritage Month
Also in attendance were: Ambassador Edward Gabriel (representing Vice President Joe Biden) who conveyed the Vice President’s greetings and salutations in addition to Ghida Dagher, representing MI Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who also conveyed a congratulatory message from the governor.
Over the phone, Ralph Nader, author, lecturer, and political activist attended the event but because of technical difficulty, he asked Warren to relay his message of support to the Foundation’s work and its mission to preserve our heritage. He believed so much in the Foundation to the extent that he recently published a cookbook detailing his family’s Arab recipes.
Next, Ashley Nemeh, a Syrian American pop music artist, sang a rendition of Bill Whiters song, “Lean on Me,” symbolizing the Arab Americans who are making a difference in the fight against Covid-19, such as physicians, nurses, food businesses, law enforcement officers, churches mosques, and non-profits.
Blanche Shaheen (Palestinian origin), Arab America food writer, journalist, and author of “Feast in the Middle East,” spoke about the lineage of Arab food and its importance not just to Arab Americans but to mainstream America. She commented that even the Palestinian dessert “kunafe” can be found at Trader Joe’s. She emphasized that Arab cuisine is an excellent way to preserve our heritage and promote our positive image in America.
Usama Baalbaki, Lebanese American vocalist and musician from Michigan performed on the oud and sang famous Arab folk songs. Unfortunately, Vocalist Dalal Abu Amneh became very ill and was unable to perform her Tarab style music.
The event ended with the National Arab Orchestra (NAO) performing in quarantine the Philemon Wehbi song (originally performed by Fayrouz), Jaybeeli Salam (bring me greetings), arranged by NAO conductor Michael Ibrahim with special guest vocalist, Abeer Nehme and 26 members of the orchestra.
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, commemorating National Arab American Heritage Month (April) and recognizing our Arab American heroes in the years to come.
The America Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit, non-sectarian, educational organization that: promotes the Arab American heritage in the U.S.; educates Americans about the Arab American identity and culture; and connects Arab Americans on a professional and social level. The organization is sustained by Donors and through its Cousins membership initiative. To make a donation or become a Cousin (member), click here.
National Arab American Heritage Month
Andoni Family Foundation