While our peers in Brooklyn, New York prepared for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Facilitator Mariel Gruszko and I traveled to Dearborn, Michigan to record a different group of 9/11 voices. StoryCorps Door-to-Door partnered with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS), a non-profit organization committed to advocacy and empowerment, to record the stories of Arab and Muslim Americans.
We heard from a variety of community activists, family members, and friends who talked about how their lives changed after 9/11 and how they worked to build bridges in their communities in the 10 years since the event. The slideshow includes photos of StoryCorps participants and the Arab American National Museum, where they shared their stories.
Two of our participants were Victor Begg and his partner in activism, Salam Al-Marayati. Salam and Victor met years ago through their work to build Muslim community, interfaith, and civic organizations across the United States. They invited a young Muslim community leader to listen to their conversation to acquaint him with the history of Muslim leadership in the United States.
Victor and Salam recalled the discrimination and isolation they faced before 9/11, as they tried to incorporate Muslim voices into public life, and reflected on how 9/11 changed their experiences of being Muslim in America. Salam and Victor good-naturedly debated how Muslims might be able to weave their grassroots networks into a national voice. After their interview, they rejoined friends, colleagues, and supporters of their organizations who had gathered outside the recording space to continue their conversation.
While there are no easy solutions for the discrimination and fear experienced in Victor and Salam’s community, StoryCorps is proud to help start the conversation and include these voices in our national archive.
This blog post was co-written with Door-to-Door Facilitator Mariel Gruszko.