Wisdom of the Elders:
Bearing Witness to Our Past, Present & Uncertain Future
Much of the coverage of COVID-19 relief to Black/African-American, including Black Muslim elders and seniors focuses on their risk and needs such as food delivery, supplies, and access. These efforts, while beneficial, do not address the needs associated with the isolation and despair that is being caused by social distancing, as well as how they uniquely impact the elderly population.
To address the devastating impact of social isolation, loneliness and disconnection from the community, the National Black Muslim COVID Coalition will spearhead an intergenerational storytelling, and documenting project called the Wisdom of the Elders. This intergenerational ethnoautobiography seeks to collapse the space caused by social distancing, and to absorb radical healing through storytelling, connection, ancestral knowledge and resilience. The aim of this project is to disrupt the narratives that view our Elders as disposable burdens, rather than the carriers of our truths, and protectors of our legacies.
In this webinar, we discuss the psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on our Elders, the Wisdom of the Elders project and the importance of storytelling and collective healing in times of crisis and beyond.
SLIDES & WRITTEN SUMMARY
Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad, PsyD
Founder & President - Muslim Wellness Foundation & Black Muslim Psychology Conference
co-Director, National Black Muslim COVID Coalition
Founder and President of Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting healing and emotional well-being in the American Muslim community through dialogue, education and training. Through Muslim Wellness Foundation, Dr. Rashad has established the annual Black Muslim Psychology Conference and the Deeply Rooted Emerging Leaders Fellowship for Black Muslim young adults. Dr. Rashad also serves as the Fellow for Spirituality, Wellness and Social Justice at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). She is the advisor to Penn Sapelo, (the first Black Muslim student organization at UPenn), and the Muslim Students Organization (MSO) at The Lawrenceville School. She served three years as the Muslim Chaplain at UPenn and continues to facilitate discussions on religious identity development and challenges faced by American Muslim youth. Dr. Rashad graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Psychology and MEd in Psychological Services. She obtained further graduate education, earning a second Masters in Restorative Practices & Youth Counseling (MRP) from the International Institute for Restorative Practices. She completed her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA.
Senior Fellow & Historian, Pillars Fund
As an oral historian, Zaheer Ali believes that in order for us to be inspirational storytellers, we must first be engaged and active story-listeners. For nearly two decades, he has worked as a listener, amplifier, and preserver of the stories of often marginalized voices. His oral history interviews have informed a Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Malcolm X, spawned a viral video on Muslim bakers, and inspired a critically acclaimed art installation. His current focus is on leveraging the power of American Muslim storytelling for social and cultural change, as Senior Fellow of the Pillars Fund’s Muslim Narrative Change Cohort. Previously, as Oral Historian at Brooklyn Historical Society, he directed several community-based initiatives that used the creative power of storytelling (and story-listening) to recover and preserve histories, affirm and celebrate communities, and engage and encourage dialogue. Muslims in Brooklyn, the most recent initiative, is a public history and arts project designed to amplify the stories of Brooklyn’s Muslim communities and contextualize those stories in the broader histories of Brooklyn, New York City, and the United States. A committed educator, he has taught for over a decade as an adjunct lecturer at New York University, including courses on United States history, Malcolm X, and Prince Rogers Nelson.
Luqman Kenny Gamble
Philanthropist & Music Legend
Singer, songwriter, and producer, Kenny Gamble, was born on August 11, 1943, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gamble got his start in the music industry in the early 1960s as a member of a band called the Romeos. From performing, Gamble eventually switched to song writing and producing alongside colleague Leon Huff; the partnership lasted over three decades. Through song writing, Gamble explored the themes of social change and empowerment of inner city inhabitants. Gamble and Huff became known for originating the Philly Soul Sound, a popular genre of the 1970s. Gamble and Huff's hits include: "Expressway to Your Heart," "Only the Strong Survive," "Me and Mrs. Jones," "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "Back Stabbers," "Love Train" and "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." In the 1970s, Gamble began to purchase run-down houses, beginning with his own childhood home, to improve conditions in blighted areas. By the early 1990s, Gamble had purchased over one hundred abandoned homes; he and his wife then moved from the suburbs back into the inner city neighborhood in South Philadelphia where he had grown up in order to help rebuild the community. Gamble founded the nonprofit Universal Companies to establish a workforce development center offering adult education and job training to individuals of all skill levels; a construction company to provide training and jobs; a business support center; a charter school; and other entities aimed at empowering the inner city and its residents. Gamble also founded a nonprofit community development corporation, Universal Community Homes, to provide low- and moderate-income families in Philadelphia with freshly-built or refurbished homes at affordable prices. The community revitalization programs Gamble launched and nurtured created hundreds of jobs; well over one hundred and twenty homes that have been constructed or renovated; and developed over 70,000 square feet of commercial space to support local needs. Gamble received various awards and honors for his work and dedication to the community.
Coordinator Director, Communities United for Status and Protection [Northeast]
Asha Noor is a racial justice and human rights advocate. She is a peace-building and conflict resolution specialist, trainer and public speaker. She currently serves as the Coordinating Director for Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP), a national collaborative of grassroots immigrant-led organizations. Noor is a trainer, and long-time member of Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative. She holds a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and a Bachelors in Political Science from Michigan State University.
Ustadh Mohamud A. Mohamed
Chaplain, University of Minnesota
Ustadh Mohamud Awil Mohamed is a Minneapolis born and raised Somali American. He is a graduate of Augsburg University with degrees in Clinical Psychology and History. Currently, he serves as Chaplain to the Muslim community at the University of Minnesota where he is pursuing a Masters degree in Heritage Studies and Public History. He is an avid writer, community organizer and committed student of the Islamic Sciences. Ustadh Mohamud is passionate about community, collective critical literacy and the power of tradition to create new positive social change.