WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), joined by Reps. Donna Shalala (FL-27), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), 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 a strong and proud Arab American woman in Congress, it is an honor to introduce this Arab American Heritage Month resolution uplifting our contributions to this nation,” Rep. Tlaib said. “For generations, Arab Americans have infused our love for freedom, justice, and equity into every aspect of our American experience. Most recently, we have seen Arab American health care workers be exemplars of patriotism, fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. This resolution serves as a message of appreciation and thanks for these contributions made and future contributions that Arab American communities across our country will no doubt continue to make.”
“Arab Americans are an integral part of rich fabric of our country’s history and way of life,” said Rep. Shalala. “The millions of members of our community have made notable contributions of the fields of American medicine, law, business, technology, civic engagement, government, and culture. I am proud to celebrate the Arab American community’s achievements as we mark Arab American Heritage Month.”
“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 make Michigan better. This month, we celebrated the accomplishments of Arab Americans in the United States throughout Arab American Heritage Month.”
“From my hometown of Paterson, New Jersey to the furthest reaches of our nation, the achievements and contributions of Arab Americans are unmissable and a critical component of the fabric of the United States,” said Rep. Pascrell. “The American people are made stronger by our Arab American neighbors and it is imperative that we celebrate their triumphs, rich culture, and terrific success.”
Other original co-sponsors were: Reps. André Carson (IN-07), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Al Green (TX-09), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Andy Levin (MI-MI-09), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Darren Soto (FL-09), and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07).
The Arab American Institute (AAI), an advocacy group whose goal is to encourage, recognize, and celebrate Arab American participation in American civic life, and to cultivate and mobilize a strong, educated, empowered Arab American community that can play a meaningful role in the betterment of our country, welcomed the introduction of the resolution.
“The Arab American Institute is grateful to the members of Congress who formally recognize April as Arab American Heritage Month with their support of this important resolution,” AAI Executive Director Maya Berry said. “Congressional action honoring the contributions of Americans of Arab descent at a time where the Arab American community continues to face anti-Arab stereotypes and bigotry has a real impact on people. In all aspects of our work, we seek to tell the Arab American story. This resolution does just that while highlighting how our community has been an important part of the American fabric for generations.”
Text of the resolution can be read here and 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, 2020, through April 30, 2020, 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 an enslaved person 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 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.