Shalala and other Congress members introduce Arab Heritage Month bill
The Arab American Institute congratulated Congresswoman Donna Shalala and other members of Congress for introducing legislation to recognize April as Arab American Heritage month. Resolutions have been approved in two dozens states including a law passed in Illinois to recognize April as Arab American Heritage month
“esteems the integral role of Arab Americans in the economy, culture and identity of the United States.”
“a need for public education, awareness and policies that are culturally competent in describing, discussing or addressing the impacts of being Arab American in all aspects of American society, including discourse and policy.”
Today, Rep. Donna Shalala (FL-27), joined by Reps. Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09) introduced a resolution honoring Arab American Heritage Month, a month-long celebration held in April to recognize the incredible contributions Arab Americans have made in the United States.
“As an Arab-American in the United States House of Representatives, it is extremely meaningful for Congress as a body to recognize the contributions of the 3.7 million members of my community in the United States,” said Rep. Shalala. “In medicine, law, business, technology, civic engagement, government, and culture, Arab-Americans have been, and continue to be, an invaluable part of the mosaic of American life. I look forward to working for the interests of Arab-Americans and celebrating our achievements and contributions to our communities throughout the country.”
“In my hometown of Dearborn and across the country, Arab Americans are part of the fabric of our community,” said Rep. Dingell. “Arab Americans have been an integral part of Michigan’s identity, sharing their culture and traditions with neighbors and friends. They are doctors, teachers, small business owners and service members – they are among the most loyal and patriotic Americans I know. Arab Americans have been leaders that helped impact Michigan for the better. This April, we celebrated the accomplishments of Arab Americans in the United States throughout Arab American Heritage Month.”
“It is my hope as a strong and proud Arab American in Congress that our nation can uplift our contributions in the United States by supporting Arab American Heritage Month,” said Rep. Tlaib. “Our history here in the U.S. is rooted in our love for freedom and equality, as well as access to opportunities to help our neighbors thrive. From the agriculture sector to medicine and beyond, we have been at the forefront in building our country without losing our rich culture.”
“In my hometown Paterson, in Passaic County, and across this entire land, Arab Americans are a bedrock of our quilt of communities whose embrace of brilliance, positive achievement, and cultural richness adds so much to our lives,” said Rep. Pascrell, Jr. “So making sure Arab American perspectives are heard and their accomplishments lauded is so critical. Arab American Heritage Month is a celebration of America itself.”
Original cosponsors include: Reps. Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), Darren Soto (FL-09), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Andy Levin (MI-19), John Lewis (GA-05), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Charlie Christ (FL-13) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14).
Text of the resolution can be read below:
Expressing support for the recognition of April as Arab American Heritage Month and celebrating the heritage and culture of Arab Americans in the United States.
Whereas, from April 1, 2019, through April 30, 2019, the United States celebrates Arab American Heritage Month;
Whereas for over a century, Arab Americans have been making valuable contributions to every aspect of American society— in medicine, law, business, technology, civic engagement, government, and culture;
Whereas since migrating to America, people of Arab descent have shared their rich culture and traditions with neighbors and friends, while also setting fine examples of model citizens and public servants;
Whereas Arab Americans have brought with them to America their resilient family values, strong work ethic, dedication to education, and diversity in faith and creed that have added strength to our democracy;
Whereas writer Ameen Rihani’s 1911 masterpiece, ‘‘The Book of Khalid’’, the first Arab-American novel, is an important record of Arab immigration to the ‘‘Little Syria’’ community of Lower Manhattan and today is a powerful example of the potential of the United States to strengthen ties with the Arab world;
Whereas Arab-American poet Kahlil Gibran’s masterpiece, ‘The Prophet’’, was a transformative piece of literature, with over 100 translations, making it one of the most translated books in history and discusses topics of the human condition in the most eloquent of ways by highlighting inclusion and understanding of all peoples;
Whereas the first Arabic speaker to come to North America, Zammouri, arrived as a slave from Morocco in 1528 and was an important explorer of the present day American Southwest;
Whereas world fairs were one of many ways that some Americans of Arab descent came to visit the United States from the Arab world and helped grow this country by creating businesses in the United States;
Whereas entertainer Danny Thomas founded the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in the 1950s in Memphis, Tennessee, and today it is the leading institution in treating children with cancer as well as in researching new treatments;
Whereas since opening, St. Jude has been providing free treatment to all children regardless of their religious affiliation, race, or ethnicity—a shining example of philanthropy and inclusivity;
Whereas the Arab American Institute estimates that there are roughly 3,700,000 Arab Americans living in the United States;
Whereas, according to Census Bureau data, Arabic is one of the fastest growing languages in the United States;
Whereas there is a need for public education, awareness, and policies that are culturally competent when describing, discussing, or addressing the impacts of being Arab American in all aspects of American society, including discourse and policy; and
Whereas the incredible contributions and heritage of Arab Americans have helped us build a better Nation: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) supports the designation of Arab American Heritage Month;
(2) esteems the integral role of Arab Americans in the economy, culture, and identity of the United States; and
(3) urges the people of the United States to observe Arab American Heritage Month with appropriate programs and activities that celebrate the contributions of Arab Americans to the United States.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia as the Special US Correspondent for the Arab News at www.ArabNews.com, the TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
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