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Oral History Interview with Linda Sarsour

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Linda Sarsour discusses growing up in the Sunset Park and Crown Heights neighborhoods of Brooklyn, especially regarding her Palestinian American family; her education at John Jay High School in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn; and her memories of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks in 2001. She expands on her involvement with the Arab American Association of New York, including her experiences as a female leader in patriarchal communities; her close personal relationships with co-founders Ahmed Jaber (interviewed for this collection on January 24, 2018) and Basemah Atweh; and Basemah Atweh's death in a car accident in 2005. She also speaks at length about her political activism, particularly surrounding intersectionality, racial justice, and the 2016 presidential election. She expands on her work with Carmen Perez, Tamika Mallory, and Bob Bland to organize the Women's March on Washington in 2017 to protest the election of Republican Donald Trump. Interview conducted by Zaheer Ali.

Biographical / Historical

Linda Sarsour was born in 1980 in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. Following the September 11 Terrorist Attacks in 2001, she became involved with the newly-founded Arab American Association of New York (AAANY) as both an organizer and a certified Arabic interpreter. She succeeded co-founder Basemah Atweh as executive director of the AAANY in 2005. During her tenure in the AAANY, she became involved in a number of progressive causes, particularly in defense of Arab American and African American communities. During the 2016 presidential election, she campaigned first for Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and then for Democratic nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton in the general election. When Republican Donald Trump was elected instead, she took an active role in resisting his administration, including co-chairing the Women's March on Washington in 2017 in protest of his inauguration, which attracted millions of participants nationwide.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at the Center for Brooklyn History's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Center for Brooklyn History
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201