Celebrating Arab American Heritage Month
April is National Arab American Heritage month, celebrating a rich heritage, culture and the contributions of Arab Americans and Arabic-speaking Americans.
Arab Americans have ancestry in one of the world’s 22 Arab nations, from Algeria to Yemen, which are located from northern Africa through western Asia. The people of these nations are ethnically, politically, and religiously diverse but share a common cultural and linguistic heritage. There are approximately 3.7 million Arab Americans in the U.S., and more than 300,000 reside in California.
Americans of Arab heritage are very much a part of the fabric of this nation, and Arab Americans have contributed in every field and profession.
Dr. Farouk El-Baz, an Egyptian American space scientist and geologist, was instrumental in NASA’s efforts to explore the moon and plan the Apollo program. As the leading geologist, he led the selection of landing sites and trained astronauts in lunar observations and photography.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is the pediatrician who was a leader in examining the link between the lead-tainted water and miscarriages in Flint, Michigan. Her actions as a researcher and whistleblower impacted the lives and well-being of a generation of children.
Californian George Kasem was the first Arab American to serve in Congress (1959-61), breaking barriers and opening the door for future Arab political leaders.
And Nagi Daifullah was a little-recognized but respected Arab American labor leader. A Yemeni immigrant and leader in the United Farm Workers (UFW), he was fighting in solidarity with laborers from all backgrounds until he died from injuries inflicted by law enforcement while advocating for the rights of UFW picketers during the grape strike of 1973.
For centuries, members of the Arab community have come to America’s shores, sharing with this country their gifts, talents, and unique perspectives. This month, and throughout the year, we honor our Arab American brothers and sisters.