CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab delivered the keynote address at the Muslim Education Center’s (MEC) community dinner on Sunday January 16, 2011, which commemorated the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Rehab discussed the civil rights movement and how it has affected the country today, 50 years later.
One attendee said the Rehab spoke about the importance of MLK Jr. and what he represents. She said it is “important to remember not only him, but all activists as well.”
Rehab did not only speak about MLK Jr. and his dedication to the civil rights movement. Rehab said, “He was as revolutionary as Malcolm X. We should honor the man, not only the legend.” Rehab took this view of honoring MLK Jr. by iterating we should not romanticize him but remember him as a human being. The attendee added that we should think about MLK Jr. and his trials and tribulations.
Many members of the audience were encouraged by the story of King and the civil rights movement, because of the nature of Islamophobia today.
“Because of the struggles MLK Jr. went through in the past, he has paved the way for all other cultures and religions to follow in his steps,” Rehab said during his speech.
In the question and answer session that followed many asked what Muslims should do in today’s civil rights struggle. Rehab responded saying that every situation is different, and the amount of noise that the Muslim community should make regarding racism or discrimination is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Rehab concluded by advising the community on how to carry the civil rights movement forward today. He said the key is in leadership; the people who are willing to make sacrifices are the people who can lead a strong civil rights movement.
The dinner, held in Morton Grove, was part of a monthly community program held by MEC. Approximately 150 men and women attend the community dinners.