We Exist Series 2: Audio Recordings
Activism and Civil Rights: Ms. Wahidah Muhammad


Activism and Civil Rights: Ms. Wahidah Muhammad



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Ms. Wahidah Muhammad (born 1948 in Chicago, Illinois; lived in Maine since December 1991)

Maureen Elgersman-Lee: "Do any events in the time that you have lived in Lewiston – are there any events in the local history that stand out in your -- in your memory?"

Ms. Wahidah Muhammad: “Recently, um, the mayor of Lewiston made a statement that was detrimental to the population, and, um -- particularly the Somalian and African Americans here, uh, which brought on the Many and One rally. And I had to get involved in it because I have a voice, you know. And I -- so, to make a long story short, um, he never apologized for that and now I'll never forget it, you know. He had the opportunity to make amends and to explain that he didn't mean it the way that it came out because we all make mistakes. But he meant everything that he said and that's why he never apologized for it. And, um, the irony of it all though is the fact that he is Franco-American. And when the Franco-Americans came here, they were dehumanized and, um, um-- put down, so to speak. And here he is doing the same thing. It's almost like, uh, oppression -- the oppressed become the oppressor. So, urn, -- plus the other thing that went along with what the mayor said was, it wasn't true in the sense that, uh, the Somalis were a burden community. When the Somalis came they came with thousands of dollars in grant monies that helped the city. But he didn't say that. So because of, um, the hypocrisy, I would never vote for him.” And what role did you play in -- in the rally “Oh, um. Well, there were several committees that I was on in putting together what the actual event would look like. And some -- because -- because many people don't understand what to do in time of crisis, because the city went into crisis behind that. And, um -- um, some people, non-black people or non-African people, in their way they thought that they should have a big party and rally and say that we want to love the Somalis, and blah, blah. And I said no. This is not the time to party, this is not the time to celebrate. What we should do is blah, blah, blah and -- and in that way I had a voice. But in order to get my voice heard, I had to get on those committees. And every week -- and go to those committee meetings and see to it that, um, um, our desires or our wishes were heard and brought into fruition.”

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Activism and Civil Rights: Ms. Wahidah Muhammad