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by Richard Coduri
Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2003 at 9:32 AM
email@example.com Arab American Institute, 1600 K Street, NW Suite 601, Washington, DC 20006
Some media outlets decided to focus on the unfortunate outburst of a few, many of whom were not Arab American, instead of focusing on the rest of the conference which was a very positive experience.
October 21, 2003
Arab American Institute's National Leadership Conference
Richard Coduri, Political Analyst and Researcher
This past weekend, the eyes of the nation were focused on Dearborn, Michigan and the Arab American Institute's National Leadership Conference (NLC). The event was a huge success, and marked a significant milestone in the growth of Arab American political empowerment. The turnout of community leaders from across the country and the incredible response from both national political parties demonstrated the recognition of the community. Less than twenty years ago, candidates for president were rejecting the endorsements and contributions of Arab American groups. We've come a long way.
Seven of nine Democratic candidates for president, as well as Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Governor Marc Racicot, chairman of President Bush's reelection campaign, addressed the conference. An eighth candidate, retired General Wesley Clark, canceled his appearance at the last minute due to illness. The candidates and Governor Racicot were generally well received by the attendees of the NLC, despite the fact that they did not always take positions the audience wanted to hear. Senator Joseph Lieberman received some adverse reaction from the crowd over some of his comments about the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. As was to be expected, some media outlets decided to focus on the unfortunate outburst of a few, many of whom were not Arab American, instead of focusing on the rest of the conference, which was a very positive experience.
Here are some links to important articles regarding the NLC:
- New York Times, "Arab-Americans Gain a Higher Political Profile," by Lynette Clemetson:
- Washington Post, "Dean Greeted Warmly by Arab Americans," by David S. Broder:
- Boston Globe, "Dean sees Clinton as Mideast Envoy," by Raha Mishra:
- Detroit News, "Presidential Candidates Court Arab-Americans," by Mike Martindale:
Among the highlights of the NLC were its plenary sessions, which concentrated on the most important issues to Arab Americans and featured some of the most knowledgeable experts from across the nation and the political spectrum. The opening session featured James Zogby and ADC President Mary Rose Oakar, displaying a common commitment to mobilizing the Arab American community.
Friday's lunch forum on the ethnic agenda in the 2004 elections included Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza, Amber Khan of South Asian-American Leaders of Tomorrow, and Aram Hamparian of the Armenian National Congress.
Saturday's civil liberties plenary featured constitutional scholar and Georgetown professor David Cole, Kary Moss of the Michigan ACLU, Joseph Zogby of the Senate Judiciary committee, and Rev. Wendell Anthony of the NAACP. Also on Saturday, the media and message plenary featured pollster John Zogby, political strategist Rick Davis, and Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist. This diverse group of scholars, activists, and strategists set the stage for what was a series of important and educational discussions focused on empowering Arab Americans in the upcoming elections.
The NLC also featured a variety of meetings designed to train Arab Americans in how best to increase the political participation of their communities to help achieve full recognition as an ethnic constituency. The NLC was an important step in meeting that goal.
Please tune in and check out "Inside Mecca," which premieres on October 22 on PBS nationwide (check local listings).
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