Rami Nashashibi Named to White House Council

In exciting news, IMAN’s Executive Director, Rami Nashashibi, was selected to serve as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Nashashibi’s appointment to the council is a direct result of the collective work that IMAN has done over the past two decades, during which the organization has grown into a nationally recognized model built on alliances across ethnic, socioeconomic and religious lines.

rami obama 16The council brings together leaders and experts from across the country who specialize in faith-based and neighborhood organizations in order to make recommendations to the Obama Administration. Current goals include reducing poverty and inequality, creating more opportunities for all citizens, and adapting policies, programs, and practices that affect the delivery of services by faith-based and community organizations to low-income and other underserved populations.

Driven by the same ideals that have powered IMAN’s work, Nashashibi hopes to not only attract greater attention to the organization’s model and accomplishments, but more importantly shine more light on the issues and causes that IMAN has addressed for nearly 20 years.

#Streets2016 Festival Reimagines Marquette Park

STREETS2016-53This year’s Takin’ It to the Streets festival gathered an extraordinary lineup of artists across genres and generations to provide the soundtrack for the continued Journey to Justice. First-time meetings, like that of Imam Zaid Shakir and hip-hop legend Rakim, highlighted the unique power of ‘Streets to forge bonds across differences based on a shared vision for more just, empowering community life.

The organic connection between art and activism was on full display in Marquette Park that day, as native Chicagoan and rising star Vic Mensa performed “16 Shots”, his high-energy commentary on the Laquan McDonald shooting, in the same police district where the teen was gunned down in 2014. Ms. Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X, shared the stage with international pop star Yuna, rapper Brother Ali, and other talented artists and driven activists sharing their gifts and talents.

14067825_1431563090203666_5291502542206933180_o#Streets2016 was a profoundly inclusive space that represented a broad spectrum of people of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds. Thousands of attendees supported local businesses and artists inside the International Bazaar and at the Community Stage. Guests of all ages were inspired by the hip-hop elements and the youthful energy of the 1 LUV Family Pavilion, which included a graffiti battle highlighting the legacy of Muhammad Ali, a backpack giveaway, free haircuts and carnival rides.

Without the sweat equity of nearly 300 volunteers and the incredible commitment of the Steering Committee, #Streets2016 would not have been possible. While organizing a nationally recognized and celebrated festival, they also became deeply invested in the myriad of issues that marginalized communities face.

13920047_1398328343526929_7215458737418003622_oThanks to the artists, activists, IMAN staff, leaders, volunteers and thousands of guests, Marquette Park’s legacy added a new chapter, reimagining the narrative of a community all too often associated with conflict, and demonstrating the transformative potential of Chicago, the nation and the world.

#Streets2016 Generates Unprecedented Media Coverage

The success of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial and #Streets2016 garnered extraordinary media coverage across the city and country.Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 11.16.59 AM

Throughout the MLK Living Memorial development process—from the initial planning, to the ground breaking, and eventually to the ribbon cutting—TV cameras and newspaper reporters captured the project’s growth into a new cornerstone of the Marquette Park community. On August 5 alone, nearly one million Chicagoland viewers tuned into coverage of the Memorial’s unveiling and the following commemorative ceremony.

The next day, #Streets2016 kicked off with the symbolic 1,000 Mile March. Each of Chicago’s local TV news networks featured segments on the day’s events, with detailed feature stories on the web and in print. Via this comprehensive media coverage, over a half million people witnessed the events of this historic day. Social media yielded even greater engagement. The memorial, march and festival were all featured on Snapchat’s “Chicago” story that weekend, and the #Streets2016 hashtag trended on Twitter for several hours. In all, these IMAN-led efforts made over 6 million impressions across all social media platforms.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 4.42.00 PMMarquette Park’s narrative legacy has endured the stains of decades-long segregation and racial discrimination. However, through these powerful efforts of a community united on the journey to justice, the story of Marquette Park is forever changed. The “world as it could be” was on full display during the August 5 weekend, as individuals, families and organizations celebrated their achievements, connected various campaigns and radically reimagined the state of their communities.

Perhaps even more powerful than the breadth of coverage the weekend received is the fact that this nationwide buzz grew organically out of a proactive series of community organizing efforts led by American Muslims and embraced by all. Like all aspects of its work, IMAN hopes that the MLK Living Memorial, the 1000 Mile March, and #Streets2016 festival will serve as models for holistic, collaborative, and positive change for other urban communities across the country.

Imam W.D Mohammed and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial Project

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial Project is currently under construction inside Chicago’s historic Marquette Park. This memorial commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement that included a daring march led by Dr. King and nearly 700 other activists, organizers and community residents through the park to challenge the city and country to end oppression and bigotry and live up to higher ideals.

wdmohammmad_1 (1)On August 6, 2016, thousands of people will gather to recall the powerful legacy of that march, and to take lessons from it as they confront today’s urgent struggles for justice, equity and dignity.
I’m excited about the MLK Living Memorial’s potential to raise public consciousness about Dr. King’s lesser-known work in alliance with poor and working people, and my enthusiasm is just as great for the recognition of the work of other fearless, devoted human rights leaders. One of those leaders is my teacher, America’s Imam, the Muslim-American Spokesman for Human Salvation, Imam Warithuddeen Mohammed.

The Imam’s words, image and leadership will be memorialized alongside Dr. King and several other icons.
Folks may ask about the connection between an imam and a reverend, a Muslim and a Christian, Dr. King and Imam W.D Mohammed. Our imam addressed this during his final “Ramadan Session”, with Dr. King’s message and memory clearly weighing heavily on his heart and mind. He said “Dr Martin Luther King, a great speaker, great man, a man driven by a human spirit, the same human spirit that was in Muhammad the Prophet (SAW). It is one human spirit for all of us and it wants excellence. Someone may think he’s the son of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and he’s calling Dr. King our leader? Yes, I am. Wake up! Our leader Dr. Martin Luther King a great, powerful man of moral determination and moral spirit to do away with injustice to people. Dr. King was a man of excellent character and a man with a spirit for justice who came from his human sense of value and nobility. We don’t have those leaders popular anymore!” (Oct 7, 2007 Ramadan Session)

As a student and indebted admirer of Imam W.D. Mohammed, I am proud to see his name and works being acknowledged alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Imam W.D Mohammed died in 2008, however for his hundreds of thousands of students, he continues to live in us. Thus, this memorial is a great honor and tribute to the community of Imam W.D. Mohammed.

The MLK Living Memorial project is led by The Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Imam W.D Mohammed praised and celebrated this organization for its social justice work, primarily in inner-city Chicago and now also in Atlanta. This memorial will be at the epicenter of one of the largest, most inclusive outdoor festivals in the country: Takin’ It to the Streets. This urban international festival attracts over 20,000 people with its inspiring workshops, performances and calls for community action.

“There are two things I will never give up”, Imam W.D Mohammed said “ Al-Islam and my African-American identity”. For generations to come, Muslims, Christians and all people of faith will benefit from the legacy of Dr. King, Imam Mohammed and others who worked tirelessly for the establishment of freedom, justice and equality for all people. Let us show our support by coming out in the thousands to witness for ourselves the power of faith, joining together in goodness and forbidding what is evil and putting our trust in G’d. Join us Saturday, August 6th at Chicago’s Marquette Park for a day we will never forget. . Visit www.streets2016.com