Arab American Heritage Month

advocacy april 2022 arab american heritage month emily kawasaki naahm positive impacts Apr 15, 2022

Arab American Heritage Month
by Emily Kawasaki

Across many cultures and traditions, spring often represents the time for celebration and renewal – and 2022 has been no different. In 2021, the U.S. Department of State designated April as Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). Arab American Heritage Month celebrates the history, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans across all spheres of American culture. Throughout American history, Arab Americans have made many significant and positive impacts in medicine, law, business, education, technology, government, military service, arts and culture and literature. (Rivera, 2021)

In the late 1800s, immigration to the United States from Arab countries started. According to the Migration Policy Institute, many Arab immigrants were fleeing war, persecution, and economic hardships. Currently, the largest populations of Arab American reside in California, New York, Michigan, and Illinois. (Alsharif, 2021) More than 3.5 million Arab Americans live in the United States and represent a diverse array of varying cultural and faith traditions. They trace their origins from 22 countries from northern Africa through western Asia: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. (Aleksandrova, 2021) The diverse backgrounds of Arab Americans also represent. 

For over 20 years, advocacy groups such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Arab American Institute (AAI) have been advocating to get April designated as a month to celebrate Arab Americans. (Alsharif, 2021) In 2019, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) issued a congressional resolution for NAAHM to be recognized on a national scale. (Staff, 2021) Maya Berry, executive director of the AAI, sees the recognition as a high-level opportunity to celebrate Arab American life in a visible way. (Alsharif, 2021) Throughout 2021, in support of Arab American Heritage Month and to celebrate diversity and inclusion as core American values, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs is highlighting the diversity of Americans serving in the EUR. (U.S. Department of State, 2021) 


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