As an institution dedicated to the history of Brooklyn, we are proud of the rich fabric of multicultural heritage in Brooklyn. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the government’s Muslim ban makes it even more imperative that we affirm our commitment to the histories of all Brooklynites. We want Brooklyn’s Muslim communities in particular to know that their stories, their struggles, and their contributions are embraced and deeply valued by the Brooklyn Historical Society.
As part of our commitment, last year Brooklyn Historical Society launched a public history and arts project called Muslims in Brooklyn, designed to highlight the long, diverse, and dynamic histories of Muslims in our Borough. Muslim communities have been a part of American life since before the nation’s founding; and established Muslim communities have been in Brooklyn for over a century. They span many ethnicities, cultures, and nationalities, but are Brooklynites through and through, having adapted to life in Brooklyn even as they have helped to shape it.
For the last few months, we have been interviewing Muslims who live in Brooklyn, some with deep roots in the United States, others whose families originate from all over the world—including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Morocco, and Sudan. We have listened carefully to the triumphs and defeats, the challenges and the rewards of people who call Brooklyn home, and who are part of the essential fabric of this dynamic Borough. They are moms and dads, sons and daughters, students and educators, activists and organizers, business owners and workers, spiritual leaders and worshippers, and more. The stories of their families and their communities are central to Brooklyn’s past, present, and future.
Over the next two years, we will use those interviews as the basis for an exhibition, a website, public programs, and an educational curriculum. Brooklyn Historical Society’s leadership and staff are fully dedicated to honoring the first-person stories of our Muslim communities. At a moment when these communities are under legal and social duress, we devote our full support to the people whose stories are so central to the dynamic and ever changing Borough of Brooklyn.