Rememberance in Community
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization with a mission to raise the voices and perspectives of South Asian individuals and organizations in order to build a more just and inclusive society in the United States. SAALT is a constituency-based organization that works with members of one of the fastest-growing ethnic communities in the United States. With a population of approximately 3 million, South Asians comprise a diverse community located in every major city in America.
Over the last decade, SAALT’s work has been shaped in response to the tragic events of September 11 and its impact on our communities. SAALT has developed its four program areas of policy advocacy, community mobilization, partnership building, and leadership development to address community needs. As South Asian, Muslim, and Sikh communities have felt the impact of uninformed and misguided rhetoric and policies affecting their well being, safety, and civil rights, SAALT has responded with appropriate and timely actions bringing community leaders and policymakers to the table for solutions and promoting a message of unity in the face of adversity.
As we approach the tenth anniversary of September 11, our country will engage in a process of reflection, renewal and recommitment to fundamental American values. SAALT seeks to contribute to this process by ensuring that the experiences of South Asians, Arab Americans, Muslims and Sikhs over the past decade are part of our observations and understanding. Through a series of events, community dialogues, and service activities, SAALT will be engaging community members around the United States on the occasion of the ten-year anniversary of September 11th.
SAALT’s 2011 national campaign called An America for All of Us seeks to include the South Asian community in 9/11 tenth anniversary events. The campaign is conducted in partnership with members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations and ally organizations and is endorsed by 24 national and local partners from diverse arenas, such as the North American South Asian Bar Association, Rights Working Group, UNITED SIKHS, and Center for Constitutional Rights.
The campaign will engage community members in a variety of ways, including: (1) documenting the experiences of South Asians during and after September 11th, 2001 through testimonials and multimedia; (2) fostering discourse and education through local hearings and forums; and (3) building bridges with other communities through interfaith dialogues.
In addition, a major community mobilization effort led by SAALT is a national day of service held in October, called Be the Change. It brings volunteers together in cities across the country to give back to their communities. Last year, 3,500 volunteers gave 12,000 hours of their time to serve local non-profits, shelters, food banks, schools, clinics, etc. This year, with the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaching, Be the Change will harness the spirit of service exhibited by volunteers to commemorate the event in even more communities.
Events will bring together students, young professionals, community leaders and members to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, learn about its ongoing impact, and take action to ensure that the spirit of compassion, unity, and service that emerged after the September 11th tragedy endures and benefits all Americans. Our primary contribution to the ten-year anniversary will be to include a diverse set of voices from the South Asian community to national conversations, remembrances and service activities.
Leading up to September 11th, SAALT will be organizing Weeks of Action in several parts of the country that will incorporate events ranging from community hearings to vigils to other events of remembrance. At this time, there are nine events scheduled, which will commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, recognize the contributions of community members and leaders, and educate participants in ways that they can make a difference by taking action.
The events will also mobilize the community to take action by signing the America for All Campaign petition and holding similar events to engage their respective communities to take action and stand against xenophobic rhetoric and unfair treatment in the post 9/11 environment. The events will also be used to motivate participants to get involved in commemorating the significant anniversary by creating video messages for the campaign webpage, and writing blogs and Op-Eds.
The events scheduled so far include the following and are expected to attract at least 200 volunteers. (The national day of service to be held on October 1 will bring together approximately 3,500 volunteers.):
July 30: Jersey City, New Jersey - Community Hearing- South Asians in New Jersey: Ten Years After 9/11. The cosponsors for this event include, among others:
American Friends Service Committee; Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF); Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (APALANJ); Citizens of Old Bridge (COB); Hindu American Seva Charities; Muslim American Society (MAS), New Jersey;New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association (NJMLA); New Jersey Independent South Asian Cinefest (NJISACF); Sodexo.
August 1-5: San Francisco, CA - Volunteer led event.
August 8-12: Atlanta, GA
This event will be held in collaboration with Raksha, which is a domestic violence services agency.
August 15-19: Los Angeles, CA - Community Hearing: Ten Years After 9/11
This event will be held in collaboration with the South Asian Network. They will engage in conversation with local leaders and impacted community members and receive information on how to take action to promote the campaign.
August 22-26: Chicago, IL
This event will be held in collaboration with the South Asian Progressive Action Collective, which is a volunteer led organization.
August 29-September 2: New York, NY - Volunteer led event.
September 5-9: Philadelphia, PA and Washington, DC – Volunteer led events.
September (Date TBD): Tulsa, OK – Volunteer led event.
Promotion of events and volunteer information:
SAALT will promote all events through its national listserv of 10,000 contacts, as well as its website and social media, including its blog (http://blog.saalt.org/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/South-Asian-Americans-Leading-Together/164355053443?ref=ts) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/SAALTweets).
The events will also be promoted through collaborating partner organizations and media coverage and press releases.
Information about participating volunteers will be kept through onsite and online registration sheets.