Virginia House and Senate Pass Legislation to Permanently Designate April as Arab American Heritage Month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON DC. (March 1, 2022) The Virginia House and Senate have voted in favor of House Joint Resolution HJ82 designating April 2022 and each succeeding year after, as Arab American Heritage Month in Virginia.
HJ82 was introduced by Arab American Delegate, Sam Rasoul, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from the 11th district. The Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR) under the leadership of Zeina Hutchison, coordinated the effort, with assistance from the Arab America Foundation–Team Virginia, and the New Dominion PAC.
“Arab Americans have a long rich history not only throughout the U.S. but particularly in Virginia with many decades of public service in the General Assembly,” said Delegate, Sam Rasoul. He went on to say, “we are grateful to the Virginia General Assembly for designating April as a time for us to reflect on the achievements and contributions of Arab Americans in Virginia and nationally.”
“We are ecstatic about this historic success for Arab Americans in Virginia,” said Warren David, co-founder of the Arab America Foundation and President of Arab America. He added that “it’s our goal to see that every state in the US permanently recognizes National Arab American Heritage Month.”
Arab America and the Arab America Foundation launched the National Arab American Heritage Month initiative in 2017, with just a handful of states recognizing the initiative. Each year, our grass-roots network of over 250 Arab American volunteers in 26 states gathers hundreds of proclamations from their states, counties, municipalities, and local school districts.
Moreover, said David, “The President of the United States recognized the month of April as National Arab American Heritage Month with a special commemorative letter to our organization in 2021,” see link below. Also, Congress, the U.S. Department of State, and 37 state governors issued proclamations commemorating the initiative in 2021.
Virginia joins Illinois and Oregon have already passed permanent legislation. The Arab America Foundation is currently working with several of its state teams to pass permanent resolutions designating April as National Arab American Heritage Month. Those states include, but are not limited to: Ohio; Michigan; New York; Maryland; Indiana; and Rhode Island.
The Arab-American community in Virginia is estimated at over 100,000. They have immigrated throughout the years from many of the 22 Arab countries. Virginia’s Arab American populations identify themselves mostly as Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Moroccan. Additionally, there are immigrants from Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
The Arab America Foundation (AAF) is a non-profit educational and cultural organization in Washington DC that promotes the Arab heritage, educates Americans about the Arab identity, and connects and empowers Arab Americans with each other and with diverse organizations across the U.S.
Compiled by Arab America
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