In 1527, a Moroccan man by the name of Mustafa Azemmouri landed in the United States as a slave, possibly becoming the first Arab individual to move to the U.S. Then in 1854, Antonio Bishallany immigrated from Lebanon to the United States and became the first official Arab American. Since then, there have been multiple waves of immigration from the Arab World into the US, and the number of Arab Americans is estimated to be over 3.5 million people today.

Arab American immigrant children
Arab American immigrant children

The Department of Anthropology at The University of New Mexico is celebrating National Arab American Heritage Month in April with a website page full of resources that include the establishment of Arab American Heritage Month, this year’s White House proclamation designating April as NAAHM, research, news, organizations, and UNM events, travel abroad opportunities, and Arabic studies.

“The goal of this webpage is to provide a variety of information and resources about Arab American heritage in a single, easily accessible format that can facilitate learning, understanding, conversations and awareness,” said Jennifer George, Anthropology department administrator.

Arab America and the Arab America Foundation launched the National Arab American Heritage Month initiative in 2017. In a letter to Arab America and the Arab America Foundation in 2021, President Joe Biden recognized NAAHM.

During the month of April, the Arab America Foundation formally recognizes the achievements of Arab Americans through the celebration of NAAHM. Across the country, cultural institutions, school districts, municipalities, state legislatures, public servants, and non-profit organizations issue proclamations and engage in special events that celebrate the Arab American community’s rich heritage and numerous contributions to society.

To find more information and resources for NAAHM, go to the UNM Anthropology website.

Image: Syrian Colony, Washington Street: [b&w photoprint, copy of drawing], Smithsonian, National Museum of American History.