Traveling exhibit at Brown v. Board honors Arab Americans in military, Peace Corps and Diplomatic Corps

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site News Release 

Contact: David Smith
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Traveling Exhibition Honors Arab Americans in Military, Peace Corps, and Diplomatic Corps

Topeka, KS – Arab Americans have been an integral part of the United States of America since its inception, contributing to our society in myriad ways, including representing and defending American ideals through public service. Long the target of negative stereotypes, Arab Americans even found themselves dubbed “guilty by association” following the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

A new exhibition created by the Arab American National Museum (AANM) – Patriots & Peacemakers: Arab Americans in Service to Our Country – tells true stories of heroism and self-sacrifice that reaffirm the important role Arab Americans have played in our country throughout its history. The exhibition is currently on display at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site through October 15. The exhibition is free and open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Patriots & Peacemakers highlights three specific areas of service: the U.S. Armed Forces, the Peace Corps, and the diplomatic service. Personal narratives highlight Arab American men and women of different national and religious backgrounds. The exhibition also encourages visitors to consider how commitment to public service impacts their daily lives.

“Whether serving in the military, joining the Peace Corps or speaking out as conscientious objectors, Arab Americans are committed to the core values of democracy and freedom that are dear to us all,” says AANM Director Dr. Anan Ameri. “While this exhibit focuses on Arab American public service in only three areas, Arab Americans have long been present in every facet of public life.”

Produced by the AANM Curatorial Department with guest curator Joan Mandell, Patriots & Peacemakers presents the stories of 170 individuals from 39 states and Washington, D.C. More than 100 Arab Americans in the military, and about 35 each in Peace Corps and the diplomatic corps, shared their service experiences for the exhibition.

The service stories begin with the Revolutionary War and touch upon nearly every conflict up to the present day. The earliest diplomats profiled date from the late 1940s/early 1950s. The Peace Corps was founded in 1961; Patriots & Peacemakers includes a profile from the 1962 class up through volunteers who are currently serving and one who has been accepted and is set to head out in 2012.

“Together with AANM staff and volunteers, books and archival lists were scoured for Arab surnames, consulted with historians and national organizations,” says Mandell. “Over the last two years, I visited and interviewed hundreds of Arab Americans across the country, and phoned diplomats and active-duty military around the world.” 

The creation of Patriots & Peacemakers: Arab Americans in Service to Our Country was made possible in part by The Ford Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and Chevron.

The Arab American National Museum documents, preserves and presents Arab American history, culture and contributions. It is a project of ACCESS, a Dearborn, Michigan-based nonprofit human services and cultural organization. Learn more at www.arabamericanmuseum.org and www.accesscommunity.org.

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