Arab American Heritage Month is an annual observance that takes place in April to celebrate Arab American heritage and culture. It honors the contributions of Arab Americans and Arabic-speaking Americans to the wider American community. The Arab American Institute reported that about 15,000 Middle Eastern immigrants from Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq migrated to the U.S. yearly in the 1960s. The celebration of the holiday has previously been observed sporadically in various states and at different times of the year since the 1990s until 2017 when Arab America began a national initiative to coordinate all states under National Arab American Heritage Month.
History of Arab American Heritage Month
The origin of Arab American Heritage Month celebration goes back to the ‘90s when it was sporadically observed — mostly in schools across the country, due to the long presence of people of middle eastern descent in the U.S.
Arab Americans and Americans of Middle Eastern heritage have a long history in the United States that started when people of Middle Eastern descent first began to enter America in large numbers in the 1800s. Historians noted these immigrants were the first wave of Middle Eastern people to immigrate to the U.S. circa 1875.
According to the U.S. government portal, the second wave of immigrants arrived in the 1940s followed by thousands of yearly Middle Eastern immigrants migrating to the country from Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq in the 1960s during the heydays of the vicious Lebanese civil war.
Today it is reported that over four million Arab Americans live in the United States with many holding positions in the military, entertainment, politics, and every other aspect of social life. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Lebanese Americans constitute the largest group of Arabs in the U.S. followed by Egyptians, Syrians, Palestinians, Jordanians, Moroccans, and Iraqis. About half of the Arab Americans profiled by the Census Bureau in a survey conducted in the year 2000 were born in the U.S. with men constituting the largest percentage of the Arab American population and most living in households as married couples.
Arab American Heritage Month timeline
Arab American heritage is celebrated sporadically in various states at different times of the year in 1990.
Arab American organizations begin a national initiative to coordinate all states under National Arab American Heritage Month.
A congressional resolution to proclaim National Arab American Heritage Month is introduced to the house of representatives in April 2019.
2021 marks the first official federal recognition of April as the National Arab American Heritage Month.
Arab American Heritage Month FAQs
What is considered Arab American?
Arab Americans are Americans of Arab descent. Although the holiday is called Arab American Heritage Month, in reality, it is not just celebrating Arabians but the entire group of migrants from the middle east.
When was the first Arab American Heritage Month?
1990. Arab American Heritage Month was sporadically celebrated around the U.S. in the ‘90s before Arab America officially started the move to align celebrations of the holiday.
How can I celebrate Arab American Heritage Month?
To celebrate Arab American Heritage Month learn about famous Arab Americans making impacts in the government and corporate spheres.
Arab American Heritage Month Activities
Read about the migration history
Celebrate Arab American Heritage Month by learning about the history of the migration that led to the explosion of people of Middle Eastern descent in the U.S. in the 1940s, 1960s, and 1990s. While Arab Americans are sometimes stereotyped as foreigners in the United States, they continue to make significant contributions to American society. Learn about them during Arab American Heritage Month as a way to celebrate and honor them.
Support Arab American Heritage friendly initiatives
Arab America — the national media organization founded to promote an accurate image of the Arab American community and the Arab world, kick-started a national initiative that prompted Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to issue a congressional resolution to officially proclaim April as National Arab American Heritage Month. Support it!
Share your thoughts on social media
With close to four million Arab Americans in the U.S. and an even wider pool of people with close friends who are of middle eastern descent, there’s more than enough — to generate attention on social platforms that lead to a broader awareness of the holiday. To celebrate the day, share opinions on important issues affecting Arab American communities, or simply showcase the culture.
5 Important Facts About Arab American Heritage Month
‘MENA’ and not ‘Arab’ heritage month
Many groups are pushing for April to be recognized as ‘MENA’ (Middle Eastern, North African) and not ‘Arab’ heritage month.
The Department of State supports it
The United States Department of State recognizes and affirms April as the National Arab American Heritage Month.
President Joe Biden is the first sitting president in U.S. history to recognize the holiday
Home to millions of Arab Americans
Over 3.5 million Arab Americans call the United States their home.
One of the most educated demographics
Arab Americans are among the most educated groups of people in the U.S., with more than 40% having a four-year degree and 17% having a postgraduate degree.
Why We Love Arab American Heritage Month
It celebrates Arab American contributions
Arab American Heritage Month’s celebration is focused on honoring the contributions of people of middle eastern descent. Its goal is to highlight the achievements of the estimated four million Arab Americans working in positions and jobs that are vital to the functioning of every American life.
It helps to keep in touch with the culture
Arab America’s mission with the initiation of the holiday is to keep Arab Americans in touch with their roots through the dissemination of accurate information about countries in the middle east, organizing cultural events, and providing the latest news around cultural events and social services, commerce, and music. We love this!
It reflects on progress
Arab American Heritage Month’s celebration was envisioned as a day to reflect on the progress of the Arab American community in the country. In recent years, there has been an even more massive acceptance and tolerance for how distinct Arab American culture is in contrast to other minority groups.
Arab American Heritage Month dates