CAIR-Chicago honors MLK’s legacy through interfaith engagement

CAIR-Chicago, partner organizations and community members spent the long weekend reflecting on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On Sunday, Outreach Coordinator Gerald Hankerson visited Anshe Emet Synagogue in Lakeview for an MLK inspired interfaith engagement event. He was invited by youth group leaders there to discuss the current issues facing Muslim youth who were born after 9/11 but still deal with its byproduct of hatred and prejudice. CAIR offices nationally are dealing with incidents of bigotry experienced by young American Muslims, oftentimes perpetrated by peers their age.

Monday marked the second year CAIR-Chicago partnered with the Children of Abraham Coalition and the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Inspired by Dr. King’s ability to bring together members of different faith groups for civil rights and social justice causes, CAIR-Chicago invited partners and community members to its Azima Center for an inter-generational discussion of current events. The conversation emphasized the need for faith communities to coordinate in order to take on challenges old and new, and was followed by a community engagement effort, and further reflection on promoting unity.

Distributing flyers near CAIR-Chicago’s offices on State St., volunteers started conversations with passers by about MLK’s legacy. The flyers included quotes from Dr. King and the three main sacred texts of the Abrahamic faiths. Reflecting on the experience, participants explained that the reactions were varied. While some members of the public ignored the community advocates, others took to making blatantly Islamophobic comments, such as equating the act of embracing Muslim Americans to ‘supporting ISIS’. That said most reactions were indeed positive. Overall, Hankerson remarked that it was a show of “…warmth in the midst of frigidness. We had the presence of different faiths, philosophies, ages, and life experiences. All of us looked to Dr. King’s work as not one person doing it all, but all coming together. In this time now, more than ever, we can find useful, meaningful ways to unite genuine hearts and minds to ensure our shared humanity is enjoyed and thriving for all.”