Making Change: Linda Sarsour

A nationally acclaimed Muslim advocate describes how her activism began at home.

Making Change: Linda Sarsour

Linda Sarsour is now nationally recognized as one of four co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington last January, but this Palestinian-American, Brooklyn-born-and-bred activist first jumped into action closer to home.

Sarsour’s Arab-Muslim neighborhood of Bayridge, Brooklyn, was subjected to police sweeps after 9/11, prompting her to volunteer at the Arab American Association of New York. Sarsour rose to become its executive director and tackled issues like immigration policy, voter registration and mass incarceration — earning the moniker “homegirl in a hijab” from The New York Times. Her efforts helped bring about citywide legislative changes that curb racial profiling by the police. But one of her proudest wins, described in this short film, was convincing New York City to close public schools on Muslim holidays.

Sarsour is both a rising star and a lightning rod. Critics contest her controversial views on Israel, but she has earned the trust of political leaders and people of all faiths, and believes strongly in organizing across lines of faith, ethnicity and issues. She joined fellow Muslim activist Tarek El-Messidi to raise more than $100,000 for vandalized Jewish cemeteries. This lively profile of Sarsour is part of a series of short films, The Secret Life of Muslims, made by filmmaker Joshua Seftel.

See more stories in our Making Change series.