WASHINGTON DC. The California State Assembly passed Concurrent Resolution 58 (ACR-58), designating the month of April permanently as Arab American Heritage Month in the state of California. ACR-58 was introduced by Eloise Gómez Reyes a member of the California State Assembly, representing District 50.
Warren David, Co-founder of the Arab America Foundation and President of Arab America, thanked Assembly Member Reyes for sponsoring the legislation and the Arab America Foundation's, California State Team Leader, Mahbuba Hammad, for her efforts to initiate the legislation. He said, "We are thrilled that the California Assembly and Senate have permanently designated April as Arab American Heritage Month," and went on to say, "This historic success is a testament to the contributions and rich cultural heritage of Arab Americans in California and throughout the United States. By officially recognizing National Arab American Heritage Month, we can celebrate and educate others about the many achievements and enduring legacies of Arab Americans. This is an important step forward in promoting greater understanding, inclusion, and appreciation for the Arab American community."
Dr. Mahbuba Hammad, Arab America Foundation, California State Team Leader said, "We are proud to announce that California has officially recognized April as Arab American Heritage Month, thanks to the leadership and support of the California State Assembly and Senate." she continued, "This permanent resolution is not only important in recognizing the contributions of the largest population of Arab Americans in the nation but also seeks to humanize a group that has been historically stereotyped and dehumanized. By acknowledging and respecting the rich cultural heritage of Arab Americans, we take a significant step in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion measures across all sectors of society. This initiative sets a powerful example for other states to follow in safeguarding all communities' human and civil liberties."
Additionally, last month California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation designating April 2023 as National Arab American Heritage Month at the request of the Arab America Foundation.
With a population of close to 4 million, Arab Americans in the U.S. can be found in every state, but more than two-thirds live in ten states: California, Michigan, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
California boasts the most prominent Arab American population in the country, estimated at over 700,000. The Arab American community in California has a rich history of immigration from the 22 Arab nations. The population primarily identifies with Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, and Moroccan heritage. However, California also includes Arab Americans hailing from Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, according to the U.S. Census.
During the month of April, the Arab America Foundation formally recognizes the achievements of Arab Americans through the celebration of National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). Across the country, cultural institutions, school districts, municipalities, state legislatures, public servants, and non-profit organizations issue proclamations and engage in special events celebrating our community’s rich heritage and numerous contributions to society.
This year, President Biden recognized National Arab American Heritage Month with a historic proclamation.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution #114
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 28 states gathers hundreds of proclamations from their states, counties, municipalities, and local school districts.
The following states have passed permanent legislation establishing April as NAAHM in addition to California, Illinois; Oregon; Virginia; and Indiana (Senate). New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, and Rhode Island are pursuing legislation.
The bill's text is as follows:
WHEREAS, It is appropriate and right to celebrate a diversity of cultures and heritages, and such celebration serves as a reminder that despite our differing backgrounds, everyone in California is bound by a common hope for a better and more inclusive future for our children; and
WHEREAS, The Arab American community has a long and integral history in the United States; and
WHEREAS, The State of California is home to the largest Arab American population in the United States with approximately 715,000 people of Arab American descent in California, represented in the entire state; and
WHEREAS, For over a century, Arab Americans have been making valuable contributions to virtually every aspect of American society, including medicine, law, business, education, science, technology, government, arts, and culture; and
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; and
WHEREAS, People of Arab descent 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 great democracy; and
WHEREAS, Arab Americans have also enriched our society by sharing in the entrepreneurial American spirit that makes our nation free and prosperous; and
WHEREAS, Arab Americans have a long and proud history of serving in the United States Armed Forces. From World War I to the present day, tens of thousands of Arab Americans have put their lives on the line to defend our nation; and
WHEREAS, The history of Arab Americans in the United States remains neglected or defaced by misconceptions, bigotry, and anti-Arab hate in the forms of crimes and speech; and
WHEREAS, People of Arab descent have shared their rich culture, strong work ethic, and dedication to education while embracing the American spirit of opportunity and helping us build a better nation and state for all; and
WHEREAS, We recognize and celebrate the contributions to cultural diversity, economic growth, and the overall development of our state and nation made by the Arab American community; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Legislature hereby designates the month of April of each year as Arab American Heritage Month to be observed throughout the state as a month to recognize the valuable contributions of Arab Americans to this state and to the various aspects of American society; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.
About the Arab America Foundation
The Arab America Foundation (www.arabamericafoundation.org) is a non-profit educational and cultural organization that promotes Arab heritage in the U.S., educates Americans about Arab heritage and identity, and connects and empowers Arab Americans.
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