November 6, 2020
NY Attorney General and Barrier-Breaking Elected Muslims from WI & OK Comment on State of Election and Civil Rights
Washington, DC — On Thursday evening, Muslim Advocates hosted a virtual discussion with leading politicians and policymakers about the election and civil rights for American Muslims. Speakers include New York Attorney General Letitia James, Samba Baldeh of the Wisconsin State Legislature and Mauree Turner of the Oklahoma State Legislature.
Mauree Turner is the first Muslim lawmaker in Oklahoma and the first nonbinary state legislator in the nation. They won with a platform of real justice reform, investment in public education, better wages and integrated healthcare. Last night, Turner talked about their impact as a queer Muslim politician:
“Just today I got two messages from young, Muslim, queer youth that are thinking about going into politics—folks that are in high school and are getting ready to head off to university,” Turner said. “They didn’t see themselves and they weren’t sure what’s coming next or if there was a place for them. To feel like they are inspired by this campaign, by this movement that we’ve built, is really a humbling experience—to create something for so many other people that I wish I had growing up.”
Samba Baldeh is the first Muslim elected to Wisconsin’s State Legislature. An immigrant of Gambia, Baldeh brings a different perspective to the table, using his experiences to tackle issues of unemployment, human rights and criminal justice reform. During the virtual discussion, he stressed the importance of American Muslims telling their own story:
“I think it’s important that I tell my own story, but also tell the stories of the communities I come from. The African-American community, the Muslim community, and the immigrant community in this country,” stated Baldeh. “For the Muslim community, I’d say, America is our country. Nobody owns this country more than us. We choose to be here, some of us, we are born here. Let’s advocate for what is right and tell our story. We should not make anybody be the storyteller but ourselves.”
Letitia James is the first Black woman to be elected as New York’s Attorney General. Her years of experience as an attorney, activist and public servant have changed the landscape of the law. She is a fierce fighter who holds tight to her principles and stands up for what is right. On Thursday, James called for all votes in the presidential election to be counted and pushed back on the anti-Muslim hate from the Trump administration:
“Every state will continue to count each and every vote until a clear winner is determined because the will of the people must be heard,” said James. “And listening to this will is more critical now more than ever as we protect the rights and lives of so many Muslims, who are unfortunately at risk due to the national rhetoric happening right now. And I would argue the national rhetoric that has happened over the last four years—rhetoric that has unfortunately not brought us together but has divided us.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.