Bay Ridge activist says she will focus on national issues
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Linda Sarsour, a Bay Ridge political activist whose public profile has been raised to a national level thanks in part to her role in organizing the historic Women’s March on Washington last month, is leaving her job as executive director of the Brooklyn-based Arab American Association of New York (AAANY).
Sarsour, who served at the helm of the association for 11 years, announced her decision to leave her post in a letter to the group’s supporters and community members on Tuesday.
“We are in a critical moment as a country and I feel compelled to focus my energy on the national level and building the capacity of the progressive movement, so it is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be leaving my post as the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York,” Sarsour wrote.
Sarsour said she plans to continue living in Brooklyn and will remain active in the Arab-American community in Brooklyn but that the election of Donald Trump has necessitated that she become more active on a national level.
She also indicated that she is thinking of writing a book.
“I will be traveling the country training organizers and local Arab and Muslim communities in effective campaigning and movement-building. I will continue to raise my voice to push policies that protect and uplift the most marginalized communities. I may even write my first book. The fight is in me and I am feeling bolder and braver than ever,” Sarsour wrote.
The Women’s March on Washington, which drew an estimated 500,000 people to the nation’s Capitol to protest President Donald Trump and spawned similarly large demonstrations in cities all over the world on Saturday, had a touch of Bay Ridge at its core, thanks to Sarsour.
Sarsour was one of a small group of women who put together the Washington protest.
The demonstration, which took place on Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration, featured speakers such as attracted feminist icons like Gloria Steinem and stars like Madonna, Alicia Keys and Scarlett Johansson.
"The Women's March on Washington exceeded our expectations. It will go down as one of the largest protests in U.S. history. We proved that when women lead we can bring millions together across the country and we can create a movement that everyone sees themselves in,” Sarsour told the Brooklyn Eagle.
In her letter announcing her decision to leave the Arab American Association of New York, Sarsour reminisced about her start at the organization and shared the pride she feels with her role in helping the group to grow.
“Many of you met me as a young woman in my early twenties outraged at the targeting of Arab and Muslim Americans by draconian post 9/11 policies. I am proud of my contributions and leadership that have made the Arab American Association of New York a premier immigrant rights and social services organization in New York City. When I became the ED of the AAANY in 2005, we had one full-time staffer and now we have 16 full-time staff, the largest adult education and legal services program in our city council district. I am so grateful to each and every one of you for your support over the last 11 years,” she wrote.
Founded by a group of Arab-American civic leaders in Bay Ridge, the association opened its doors in December of 2001. The organization is headquartered at 7111 Fifth Ave. and seeks to serve as a bridge between the Arab community and the New York City community, according to its website, arabamericanny.org.
The association provides social services to new arrivals from the Middle East and works to combat anti-Muslim prejudice.