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  • Writer's pictureWTS Sacramento

Arab American Heritage Month 2022

This April, WTS Sacramento observed National Arab American Heritage Month, during which we recognized and reflected on the unique contributions and history of the Arab American community. This is the first time our Chapter has observed National Arab American Heritage Month since its official recognition by the State Department in 2021. National Arab American Heritage Month has been recognized by a handful of States including Arkansas, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, and North Carolina. On April 22nd, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation that formally acknowledged April as Arab American Heritage Observance Month in California.

With 3.7 million Arab Americans currently residing within the United States, the community’s history dates back as early as the 1600s. Arab immigrants reached the United States in four waves, with most fleeing from poverty and war-torn homelands in search of a new life with better prospects. The first wave of Arab immigration consisted mostly of Lebanese and Syrians in the 1870’s, who founded small businesses to uplift and expand communities within the Northeast and Midwest. At the turn of the twentieth century, the booming auto-industry in Detroit enticed the second wave of Arab immigration. The third wave, which occurred 1960’s until the 1990’s, saw Arabs immigrating to escape war in Lebanon and poverty in Egypt, Morocco, and Yemen. The most recent fourth wave of Arab immigration is formed by refugees fleeing conflicts in Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. Today, the Arab American communities in the US consist of immigrants from 22 nations including Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen and many Gulf countries.

California is home to the largest Arab American population in the country, with more than 715,000 residents of Arab descent calling the State their home. During this celebration month, we took a moment to learn and reflect about the diversity within the Arab American community by acknowledging several key facts:

  • Arab Americans are ethnically, politically, and religiously diverse but share a common cultural and linguistic heritage.

  • While related, official groups such as the Arab American National Museum does not consider the term “Arab” fully interchangeable with the term “Middle Eastern”. Some Middle Eastern countries are not primarily Arab-speaking, and some Arab countries are not located in the Middle East.

  • Roughly 25% of the Arab community practice Islam while 63 to 77 percent are devout Christians according to the Arab American Institute.

  • Arab American refugees coming to the US jumped to 70,000 in 2017 compared to 26,000 in 2003, then declined rapidly due to travel restrictions from the State Department.

  • Over 40% have a four-year degree with 17% having a postgraduate degree, making Arab American Americans among one of the most educated demographics.

To learn further about Arab American cultural heritage and the significance of this celebration month, visit:

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