April recognized as National Arab American Heritage Month
The month of April has been recognized as National Arab American Heritage Month by at least 8 U.S. States and the District of Columbia.
The effort needs to be expanded to include every U.S. State not only where Arab Americans live but in states where Arab Americans may or may not be sizable populations. The fact is that Arab Americans do live in every U.S. State an territory and their heritage deserves to be recognized as the heritage of other ethnic and racial groups are recognized such as African American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and more.
Here is an overview of U.S. States that recognize April officially as Arab American Heritage Month.
Inside the Tent at the Arabesque Festival in June 2010 when Richard M. Daley was mayor. Photos by Ray Hanania
Many states had inconsistent and different designated month celebrations, like in Illinois where for many years since the 1980s, November was recognized as Arab American Heritage month first in Chicago and then later expanded to Illinois by Governors Jim Edgar and George Ryan.
But since the election of Gov. Bruce Rauner, and because of anti-Arab policies embraced by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois and Chicago Arab Heritage month celebrations in November were suspended. Rauner and Emanuel have taken very aggressive anti-Arab stands including with Rauner backing and signing an illegal state law that violates the U.S. Constitution punishing any American who criticizes Israel or supports a boycott of Israel by denying them state contracts or funding.
Emanuel, whose father was a member of the terrorist Irgun Tzai Leuhmi in the 1940s, has refused to meet with Arab Americans in part because of his desire to avoid raising the issues of his father’s past and his own anti-Arab policies.
Emanuel’s first act as Mayor of Chicago after being elected Mayor in April 2011 was to withdraw support and funding for the annual Arabesque Festival which was held at Daley Plaza under the supervision of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley for some 4 years. Emanuel also dismantled the Human Relations Commission in a direct effort to dissolve the Advisory Commission on Arab American Affairs, the only agency in Illinois that addressed racism and discrimination against Arab Americans.
ArabAmerica.com leads a national effort to establish April as National Arab American Heritage Month in all 50 states. Image courtesy of ArabAmerica.com
The commission was targeted by extremist Jewish American organizations that support Israel complaining that the commission served as a base for the influence of Palestinian Americans, who make up more than 75 percent of the Arabs who live in Chicagoland (Chicago and the surrounding suburbs).
This year, Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan has introduced a law that would officially designate April as Arab American Heritage Month, joining seven states that already recognize April as Arab American Heritage Month. The law was announced during the annual Brunch & Forum hosted by the Arab American Democratic Club on Sunday Oct. 21, 2018 at Niko’s Banquet Hall.
There is a campaign to get President Donald Trump to also recognize April as Arab American heritage month, too.
Here is an overview of the States and territories that officially recognize and celebrate Arab American Heritage Month in April each year.
Illinois will join 7 US States and 1 US District that recognize APRIL as Arab Heritage Month in America. The current April Arab American Heritage Month celebrations are:
Arizona. Click here for more details.
California. Click here for more details.
Virginia: Declared by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Maryland. Click here for more details.
Texas. Click here for more details. Celebrated since 2013
Georgia. Celebrates every April Arab Heritage events
Washington DC. Celebrated since 2008
Michigan. Click here for resolution introduced by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Or read the resolution in full below:
A resolution recognizing April as Arab American Heritage Month was introduced to the U.S. Congress by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell on April 5, 2017. Click here for more details.
HON. DEBBIE DINGELL OF MICHIGAN IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Friday, April 13, 2018 Mrs. DINGELL.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize April as National Arab American Heritage Month. Arab Americans throughout southeast Michigan and the entire country embody the best of America through their work ethic and contributions to our communities. It is always an honor to recognize April as National Arab American Heritage Month and celebrate the community’s diversity of creed, values and faith that strengthen America’s democracy. With almost four million Arab Americans living in the United States, it is important that we take the time to honor the momentous contributions made by these individuals. Arab Americans have greatly impacted the American way of life across a variety of fields, including education, business and government. Those of us in southeast Michigan know that whether they are a business owner, lawyer or factory worker, these individuals make our community a better place to live and raise a family. Michigan’s 12th District contains Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to the largest population of Arab Americans in the country, and it is a distinct privilege to represent this community in Congress. Dearborn is a vibrant city that is home to people from all walks of life and backgrounds who have a common desire to foster a community in which families can thrive. Arab American community members are attributed to meaningful and lasting positive change in southeast Michigan. Notable contributions include the creation of the Center for Arab American studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which teaches the history and experiences of Arab Americans in a fast growing facility and the opening of the Arab American National Museum, which is the world’s first museum devoted to Arab history and culture. These hardworking individuals make our communities strong and exemplify the values that make America great. During Arab American Heritage Month, it is my hope that the contributions of Arab Americans throughout our country’s history will be recognized and celebrated. Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing April as National Arab American History Month. Their meaningful contributions to the United States are deserving of acclaim.”