Recognition of National Arab American Heritage Month Reaches New Heights in April 2023!
By: Claire Boyle / Arab America Contributing Writer
In 2017, the Arab America Foundation began the initiative to have the month of April recognized and celebrated throughout the United States (U.S.) as National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). The initiative was founded by the Co-Founders of the Arab America Foundation, Warren, and Dr. Amal David, two lifelong activists in the Arab American community.
Now, fast forward six years later in 2023, and not only has the movement grown to unimaginable successes, but the Arab America Foundation and its NAAHM initiative are leading the way in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in multiple sectors throughout the U.S. including the federal government, state leadership, local towns and villages, school districts, businesses, arts and entertainment, social media, education, sports, healthcare, technology, professional associations, history, music, and the celebrations are even going global.
In this article, we seek to show how the NAAHM initiative has reached new heights in April 2023. Now, is the time to be proud of your heritage, join us in celebrating National Arab American Heritage Month here!
U.S. President Joe Biden issues historic first proclamation recognizing April 2023 as National Arab American Month on March 31, 2023:
On March 31, 2023, it was announced by The White House that U.S. President Joe Biden had officially recognized April 2023 with a historic first proclamation by a president in the country. In the words of President Biden:
"The Arab American story is the American story — one of diverse backgrounds and faiths, vibrant tradition, bold innovation, hard work, commitment to community, and stalwart patriotism, all coming together to accomplish something greater than any one of us. This month, we join together to celebrate the immeasurable contributions of Arab Americans to our Nation and recommit ourselves to the timeless work of making sure that all people have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream." This proclamation is the culmination of many years of hard work, advocacy, and creating connections that engage Arab Americans together with their local leaders, and we cannot thank Warren and Dr. Amal David enough for their tenacity in urging the president to recognize the Arab American community and really, Arab Americans worldwide.
The White House:
On Saturday, April 22, 2023, The White House held a reception to celebrate April 2023 as National Arab American Heritage Month. The Co-Founders of the Arab America Foundation, Warren, and Dr. Amal David, were invited to take part in this joyous and history-making reception in the heart of Washington, D.C.
U.S. State Department and Secretary of State, Antony Blinken:
On April 1, 2023, the U.S. State Department issued a press release recognizing April 2023 as National Arab American Heritage Month. In the release, they describe how they are proudly celebrating the contributions of Arab Americans during this month of April. In addition, on the same day, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, issued a statement recognizing the month as NAAHM. In the Secretary’s words, he said, “The contributions of Arab Americans are as old as America itself.”
In addition, celebrations of National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) have gone global–this year, the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, recognized the contributions of Arab Americans to the fabric of the United States.
The U.S. Embassy in Yemen also recognized April as NAAHM with the State Department and the U.S. Federal Government.
U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell:
On April 7, 2023, U.S. Representatives, Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell reintroduced a joint resolution in the House of Representatives that would formally recognize the month of April as National Arab American Heritage Month, much like how February is celebrated as Black History Month or November is recognized as Native American Heritage Month. It is currently unknown whether this resolution will be passed, but the two representatives from Michigan where most Arab Americans reside are working hard to make NAAHM a law in the U.S. sometime in the future.
Library of Congress:
The Library of Congress has announced a photograph collection recognizing famous Arab Americans and their artwork. Among their photographs include former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala, author Kahlil Gibran, the artwork of Zaida Ben-Yusuf, and a contemporary picture of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, among other items in the collection. The event to showcase the collection was on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and there will be a virtual presentation sometime in the future.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The U.S. FDA, the federal regulatory agency for food, drugs, vaccinations, cosmetics, and other products posted a photo on their Twitter pages in celebration of April 2023 as NAAHM. In the post, they put together a bit of trivia about the fact that “Arab scholars and physicians laid the foundations for the modern science and medicine that we use today.” Check out their post here!
State and Local Government:
Another integral part of the NAAHM initiative is to engage Arab Americans with their elected state leadership, representatives, local governments, and other community individuals to obtain proclamations that declare April (either permanently as a law or as a proclamation by leaders) as National Arab American Heritage Month. To date, the Arab America Foundation and its community teams have obtained 43 states, 90 total proclamations, resolutions, and statements, and 37 state governors who have declared April 2023 as NAAHM.
There are states including Illinois (the first), Oregon, and Virginia that have permanent resolutions on the books that already declare April as NAAHM in their states yearly without having to obtain individual proclamations. This year, the Arab America Foundation is excited to report that we have obtained 90 total proclamations, resolutions, and statements from local, state, city, and village governments. There is still time left in April–go engage your representatives! Feel free to contact us to obtain our proclamation kit!
Visit the National Arab American Heritage Month page on the Arab America Foundation’s website to learn more about proclamations and how you can become involved.
Sephora, the world-renown makeup company posted on its social media a picture that celebrates Arab Americans and has even partnered with Noha, an Arab American model, and spokesperson for its products. Watch the TikTok video featuring Noha and hear her brave story of moving to the United States completely on her own.
Delta Airlines, the world’s second-largest airline by the number of scheduled passengers participates in celebrating April as National Arab American Heritage Month. This recognition resulted from the hard work of many Arab Americans who have been advocating for the inclusion of NAAHM in the company’s cultural celebrations.
United Airlines has also recognized April 2023 National Arab American Heritage Month, and even written an article about their Business Diversity Senior Manager, Abeer Alkatib, who is known as a “woman of many roles.”
Paula’s Choice Skincare:
Paula’s Choice Skincare, a makeup company with over 685,000 followers on Instagram and is found in stores as diverse as Kohl’s, Sephora, and Amazon, tagged the Arab America Foundation and Arab America on our Instagram account to add their support and recognition of April 2023 as National Arab American Heritage Month!
The television station, MTV, has also joined in recognizing April 2023 as National Arab American Heritage Month, using an illustration by Dearborn, MI native, Huda Fahmy, to make a video showing an Arab cuisine delicacy! Check out the video and celebrate your heritage with MTV!
The Detroit Pistons basketball team on April 1, 2023, posted an image on their Twitter account in celebration of April as National Arab American Heritage Month. The Pistons’ post also recognizes the immeasurable contributions of Arab Americans to the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan. Check out their full post here!
California Teachers Association:
The California Teachers Association has recognized April 2023 as National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). On their website, they declare how NAAHM has been previously recognized by the state of California since 2018 as Arab American Heritage Month, and they cite President Biden’s recognition by letter in 2021 as another reason why it is celebrated in the state. They also reference Arab America Foundation’s Educator’s Curriculum Kit as a valuable resource and mention that you should visit the Foundation’s website for more details.
American Psychological Association (APA):
The American Psychological Association (APA) shared its support of NAAHM with a recent post on Twitter discussing the power of AMENA culture and identity, the value of community, and the importance of cultural competency in psychology. The APA is the main professional and scientific organization that represents psychologists in the U.S., but they also publish the APA Style Manual, a much-utilized writing style in the social sciences that represents academics worldwide, so their recognition of NAAHM is very meaningful considering the reach of the APA.
National Educators Association (NEA):
National Educators Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle issued a proclamation in support of April 2023 as National Arab American Heritage Month. This action follows prior proclamations in past years to recognize NAAHM. Education is a powerful tool in fighting for DEI initiatives, so it is exciting to see this national recognition from educators throughout the country.
Universities, Libraries, and School Districts:
Many universities, libraries, and school districts have recognized the NAAHM initiative including the University of Buffalo, Wayne County Community College District, Saginaw Valley State University Library, and Fordham University students are organizing to get MENA recognition, LA County Public Library, Buffalo Public Schools, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville libraries, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, University of New Mexico, Fairfax County Public Schools, and so many more.
North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN):
The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) celebrates NAAHM! They cite Arab America and Arab America Foundation as the originators of the movement and mention that “hospitality, generosity, faith, and community are key pillars of Arab culture, and children often become caretakers for their parents.” To celebrate April as NAAHM, they hosted a speaker, Dr. Ruba Abdelhadi, who is originally from Amman, Jordan, and they are reconsidering how they collect data to be inclusive of those that identify under the MENA category.
Copyright Alliance, a national membership organization that represents photographers, artists, game designers, and others who receive royalties from the art or items they make is celebrating April as National Arab American Heritage Month! Of particular note, they cite the Arab America Foundation and Arab America as the groups that started the NAAHM initiative. In addition, they list books, media, and Arab cultural items to listen to, watch, and educate yourselves about the Arab American experience during the month. Finally, they also feature an article written by one of our Arab America interns, Salma Heram, on who are behind the NAAHM legacy and history.
Arab Americans of Cleveland (AAC):
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO:
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), a union that represents 50,000 flight attendants throughout the U.S. has declared April as NAAHM! In their write-up of celebrating the month, they trace the heritage and lineage of the first Arabs who arrived in this country in the 1870s and discuss the contributions in all sectors that Arab Americans have made here. Finally, they credited Arab America with being behind the movement to have this month be recognized nationally.
Chicago Association of Realtors:
The Chicago Association of Realtors organized a webpage devoted to NAAHM! In this article, they discuss Arab migration to the United States, and the Chicagoland area, and provide a list of cultural resources to check out.
The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced on April 3, 2023, that they recognized the contributions of Arab Americans. On their website, they put together a collection of stories that feature Arab Americans who continue to make a difference in the health of young children worldwide. This recognition by St. Jude is even more meaningful to many Arab Americans because the founder, Danny Thomas, was of Lebanese descent, and he is a favorite Arab American son, among the population, especially due to his hospitality, care for those who are ill, and to try and find cures for some of the world’s most tragic illnesses in children.
Sharp HealthCare Regional Hospitals in San Diego, California:
Two major healthcare systems: Cook Children’s, based in Fort Worth, Texas, and Sharp HealthCare Regional Hospitals, located in San Diego, CA, gave Arab America Foundation proclamations and in the case of Cook Children’s, mentioned the Foundation as the source and originators of the NAAHM movement.
Arts, Music, Culture, and Entertainment:
PBS featured Fairuz as one of their famous Arab Americans in honor of NAAHM. In addition, they have various NAAHM resources and videos on their website about Arab Americans and migration to the U.S. Check out the various films and documentaries on their POV page to learn more.
Palestinian Chilean artist, Elyanna, made history in 2023 at Coachella, by becoming the first singer to perform an entire musical set in Arabic. Elyanna, a native of Nazareth, is signed to Universal Arabic Music, and just two years ago, she performed for the Arab America Foundation’s yearly NAAHM commemoration in an event held on Zoom due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. She performed on April 15 and April 22, 2023, which also coincided with National Arab American Heritage Month!
Entertainment Tonight (ET):
Entertainment Tonight (ET) compiled a list of five TV featuring Arab American actors to celebrate your heritage during the month of April. They posted introductions about Ramy, Mo, and other famous shows featuring Arab Americans.
The Field Museum in Chicago hosts its inaugural NAAHM celebration. Karim Nagi, a noted musician on the Riq and various other Arab instruments performed at the Museum on April 18, 2023. The Field Museum also partnered with the University of Illinois at Chicago Arab American Cultural Center. In addition, the Field Museum is hosting a month-long celebration on various days throughout April to recognize NAAHM. This is especially important especially since many Arab Americans live in the city of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.
Social Science Space:
Social Science Space (SSS) provided a miniature history of the NAAHM movement and recognized the Arab America Foundation and Arab America as the founders of the initiative.
Media and Technology:
WBIR News–Knoxville, Tennessee:
WBIR put together a historical article about Arab Americans in the state of Tennessee. In fact, they mention that Arabic is the third-most-spoken language in Tennessee, and they trace the lineages of Arab Americans in the state.
The Today Show:
The Today Show featured an article about what NAAHM means to Arab Americans, especially, in light of their history, culture, and values as well as the wondrous contributions of Arab Americans to the United States.
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