Reading Families

AAAN Celebrated Arab Heritage Month with a Family Reading Night and Cultural Celebration

AAAN's Rasmea Yousef helps women apply for library cards

Free Henna was available for all

AAAN staff read Arabic storybook


Anti War Rally

AAAN youth kick off October 8th anti-war rally and march with spoken word poetry.

Never Silent, Never Afraid

The AAAN Youth Program held our tri-annual Never Silent Cafe this past Saturday, April 30th. The house was packed and our performances our awesome. Our Silent Echoes youth got to perform, most of them for the first time! And our guests included cousins and rapping partners Big Moe and Little A,  14-year old dancing phenomenon Cumi, and Morocco’s first female MC, Soultana!

aaan dabke crew:

and our special guest star soultana:

Free Community Health Fair and BBQ

Dear AAAN Friends and Family,

We are having a health fair, barbeque, and blood drive for the community on May 14th, 2011 as part of National Arab American Day of Service.

We will have food, activities for children, and health screenings including glucose and blood pressure. For every screening in which you participate, you have an opportunity to win fun raffle items like a Starbucks gift basket, free gym passes, and passes to the Brookfield Zoo!! We also encourage you to donate blood.

What: Community Health Fair, BBQ, and Blood Drive
When: Saturday, May 14, 12:00 PM -5:00 PM
Where: AAAN Office, 3148 W. 63rd Street (above the currency exchange)
Why: For health and fun!

To volunteer, register here.

We Need Your Support

Dear AAAN Friends and Family,

This year has been momentous for our organization and our community. We marched in Washington for comprehensive immigration reform, and worked with our allies across Chicago and the country to educate our community about the DREAM Act. Our elementary school youth collected shoes for Haiti and began a weekly reading initiative through a new family literacy project. Another 50 high school youth were trained in community organizing and activism.  And we sent 13 young people to the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit to learn about social movements across the country and world.

We collected petitions to convince the Department of Justice to revise the 2003 guidance on racial profiling, which currently includes dangerous loopholes that allow border patrols to still target people based on race, religion, and nationality.   We helped hundreds of immigrants become citizens and learn English, and assisted close to 5,000 families in accessing safety-net social services. Our Arab Women’s Committee produced another two dozen stories as part of its Writing Project, and we held cultural and informational workshops around the city and suburbs, guiding institutions and individuals in understanding Arab history, culture, and heritage.

And of course, we just recently hosted the legendary Helen Thomas(see below), and honored AAAN co-founder Camilia Odeh, at our elegant 15th Anniversary Fundraiser.

At the same time, the ongoing attacks against our community have worsened. Several Chicago Arab and Palestinian activists have been subpoenaed by the FBI and U.S. Attorney to testify before a Grand Jury. These individuals are being targeted for speaking out against immoral U.S. policies abroad, especially in the Middle East. We need your help to continue our work strengthening and organizing the community to defend our civil rights and liberties.

For those who were not able to attend our fundraiser with Helen Thomas, here’s your chance to support the AAAN’s work.  You can make a credit card donation, through Network for Good, of $50, $125, $250 or more. Or you can send a check to AAAN, 3148 West 63rd Street, Chicago, IL 60629. And even for those that were there, one more chance to make a tax deductible donation before year end!

Our community needs you now more than ever! Best wishes for the holidays and thank you for your support!

Hatem Abudayyeh
Executive Director

15th Anniversary Event with Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas AAAN 15thAnniversary Fundraiser



Watch Helen Thomas’s full speech here.

As the season’s first blizzard raged outside, several hundred people from the Arab community and allies found warmth inside the halls of the Belvedere Chateau at the Arab American Action Network’s 15th Anniversary Banquet and Fundraiser on December 12.

The refuge they experienced was not only physical, but also emotional, spiritual, and political. They came to support the AAAN’s important work, and hear Helen Thomas, Arab American “dean of the White House Press Corps,” address the self-described topic, “Justice for the Arabs.” Thomas spoke of a lifetime devoted to pursuing the presidents she covered—from Eisenhower to Obama—and getting them to answer the difficult questions that no one else would ask. Much of what she kept them honest about was American policy in the Middle East and Arab World. In her speech, she described the way Arab interests and opinions have been unfairly silenced in this country, and how the community has fought back.  She also told a number of anecdotes from her career that had the entire room in stitches, including one about the time she was with a gaggle of White House reporters when President Ford stepped on a carnival scale that also told fortunes.  In summary, it read, “You are a strong and bold leader.”  Thomas, being the irreverent soul she still is today, quipped, “It probably got your weight wrong as well!”

Special guest MC Cliff Kelley, the Governor of Chicago Talk Radio, brought his special brand of humor to the event, and also spoke glowingly of Thomas’ courage and integrity, the kind not often found in any journalist, let alone one who worked in the White House for over 5 decades.

Longtime community activist/organizer, AAAN co-founder, and Southwest Youth Collaborative Executive Director Camilia Odeh was also honored at the event for her years of dedication to the Arab community, as well as the other marginalized communities of color on the southwest side of Chicago and across the U.S. The evening was a moment of acknowledgement of the importance of people working together and supporting each others’ struggles for human rights, freedom, and social and economic justice.  A number of guests called it the “best community event I’ve ever attended.”

Thomas, who turned 90 this year, spoke with a clarity and boldness that belied her years. Her presence commanded the room, and she kept everyone enraptured—teens, adults, and even a two-year-old. At the end of the evening, she stayed to sign autographs, and chat and take pictures with dozens of community members and other well wishers.    She told Associate Director Rasmea Yousef that, although she had “been to Chicago many times,” the evening was “the most special [she’d] experienced,” and that she was touched by the staff and community and their hospitality and warmth.

Never Silent

We had one of our best Never Silent Cafes yet on Saturday, December 18th. Watch videos of some our performers and guests below.