Following the death of George Floyd, Na’ima B. Robert challenged herself to become an agent of change. She started by hosting weekly, online conversations and now, she's taking things a step further.
“A lot of the people who were at that conversation continued to come back … and as we had these weekly conversations, I woke up one morning and thought, wouldn’t it be awesome to have all of this in one month?” the London resident asked.
Beginning in October, Robert will lead the inaugural Black Muslim Festival. The month-long event will discuss a myriad of important topics while highlighting prominent Black Muslim leaders around the globe.
“[This festival] is celebrating us. Our achievements, our history, our sacrifices, our challenges – and having the kind of conversations that we need to have within our community,” the festival's founder said.
Discussion topics will include wealth, family, racism, mental health and community activism. More than 40 speakers will participate including US-Canadian imam Abdul Hakeem Quick, poet Alhan Islam and historian Habeeb Akande. The event also corresponds with the United Kingdom's Black History Month. Given the country's large African and Caribbean populations, the event will also celebrate those specific communities as well.
“We thought it made a lot of sense to dovetail the event to it [Black History Month], since it typically does not have anything to do with Muslims," the author said.
Ultimately, Robert hopes that this event is not a one time thing. She believes that her first-year event will live on for years to come. However, she does not want to feel forced to discuss the same issues in a year's time. Her goal is that the issues the world is plagued by today will be things of the past in years to come.
“We don’t want to have a conference or festival in a year’s time and still be talking about the same issues. We are better than that."
“Ten, 20 years ago you could find a Muslim conference of 30 people with no women or Black people. You can’t get away with that now.”
The event is free and open to the public. It will begin digitally October 2 before ending on October 25.
Photo: Getty Images