Interview with Debbie Almontaser, 2005
Debbie Almontaser is teaching her elementary school class in New Jersey on the morning of the World Trade Center attacks. When her fearful students begin to talk about blaming different cultural groups, she supports them but gently reminds them that she and all of the students in the class are from different backgrounds. Debbie, the daughter of Yemeni Muslim immigrants, unexpectedly receives an outpouring of empathy from her young students. On September 12 Debbie’s son, a national guardsman, is assigned to Ground Zero. She yearns to talk to him and understand what he is experiencing but must respect his decision not to share the horrors of Ground Zero with her. When members of Debbie’s community are “rounded up” Debbie is compelled to address and overcome strong anti-Muslim bias in the wake of 9/11. She was the founding principal of NYC’s Khalil Gibran International Academy but was targeted with unwarranted discrimination in the press and educational system. The courts supported Debbie and since then she has emerged as an influential speaker and award-winning activist and leader.For information about this project, please visit Project Rebirth’s website at http://www.projectrebirth.org/#missionPlease contact Project Rebirth at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in obtaining companion documents and learning materials related to this film for educational purposes.Please let us know how this content affects you by sharing your story with us at https://www.library.georgetown.edu/digital-georgetown/share-story
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