Meet MPAC’s 2016 “Empowering Voices” Honorees
MPAC is due to host its 3rd annual “Celebrating Empowering Voices” Gala in Washington, DC, where it would honor and thank those who courageously stand up for and support the rights of all Americans. An announcement by MPAC states:
Each year, we honor outstanding leaders who embody the values our nation holds so dear. This year is particularly impactful with the heated political rhetoric that has created an environment of fear. Immigrants, Muslims, refugees, and minority communities have been the target of degrading and offensive attacks, making those who stand up to them even more vital. This year, MPAC is honoring the following bold and courageous leaders:
Secretary of Labor Tom Perez
Throughout his career, Secretary Perez has fought discrimination and ensured all people have a fair chance at the American Dream. Across two agencies, the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor, he has uplifted the underrepresented and underserved. As assistant attorney general for civil rights at the US Department of Justice, he fought against discrimination and racial profiling.
During his tenure at the DOJ, multiple communities exercised their right to build mosques as he defended that right under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. His work led President Obama to appoint him as the Secretary of Labor, where he has prioritized employment protection, jobs trainings, and fair wages.
Secretary of Education John King, Jr.
Secretary King started his first day strong, signing a letter encouraging educators around the nation to ensure all students have a safe environment to learn in, even pointing out Muslims, and those perceived to be Muslim, as groups who may be at an increased risk for discrimination and bullying. He has worked tirelessly to advance equity in our classrooms and educational system. His commitment to equal access and opportunity to education started from an early age - after being a teacher he started interning for the Department of Education at the age of 22. Secretary King founded a charter school outside of Boston that eventually outperformed schools in more affluent areas.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes
Mr Rhodes is the primary foreign policy and national security speechwriter to President Obama. He appears regularly on media networks, articulating the Administration’s stance on human rights, including expressing concern for casualties in Gaza and the plight of the Rohingya. He regularly attends meeting with American Muslim leaders to ensure our voices and experiences are shared.
Rep. Andre Carson (IN-07)
Rep. Carson is a vociferous advocate for his constituents, but does not hesitate to speak out on issues that affect the nation at-large, such as diversity and combating anti-Muslim bigotry. As one of two Muslims in Congress, and one of the few Members who come from a law enforcement background, he brings a level of expertise that few have, which was recognized with his appointment to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Carson has an eye on our nation’s future, and has been extremely welcoming to youth who approach his office and look for his leadership.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-34)
Rep. Becerra has represented the interests of Angelenos since 1993. During the Park 51 controversy, Rep. Becerra met with delegates from MPAC to listen to the concerns of Los Angeles Muslims and how the controversy impacted them. After the San Bernardino shooting, Becerra made a personal visit to the MPAC office in Los Angeles to discuss solutions to the rising tide of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. His district includes the Islamic Center of Southern California, the mosque out of which MPAC emerged. He serves as the Chairman of the Democratic Caucus and is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Becerra has worked to ensure working families have equal economic opportunities and his work on the powerful Ways and Means Committee has seen him fighting poverty and protecting Social Security for minorities.
Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08)
As a freshman member, Rep. Beyer has done more for America’s values of inclusion and diversity than many have done after decades in office. Within his first year, he introduced a Resolution condemning anti-Muslim bigotry and commending the contributions of American Muslims. Rep. Beyer has not stayed silent in the current political environment and its heated rhetoric. In response to those who would propose bans on immigration by Muslims, Rep. Beyer recently introduced a bill which would prohibit denial of entry to immigrants to the US based on religion.