Some of those recognized
Do you know these Arabs who are recognized internationally?
GIBRAN KHALIL GIBRAN [Artist, Poet, Philosopher]
" Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your
Many of us know this as a quotation from a speech made by U.S. President John
F. Kennedy in 1961. It is less well known that this quote appeared thirty
six years earlier in Gibran's essay "The New Frontier".
years after his death, Gibran is still held in high regard as an important
• Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) born as Gibran Khalil Gibran, influenced the
modern Arabic literature and composed inspirational pieces in English, including
• Oldest child of Khalil Gibran and his wife Kamila Rahme, was born in
Bsharri a scenic region near the ancient Cedars of Lebanon, then part
of Syria and
the Ottoman Turkish Empire. His life as a child included few material
comforts and very little formal early education. However, he received
a strong spiritual
• Seeking a better future, the mother immigrated to America in
1895. They joined relatives and shared a residence in South Boston, Massachusetts.
Kamila Gibran sold lace to support her four children and opened a small
dry goods store. While registering for public school, Gibran's name was
shortened and changed forever.
• His life changed when his art teacher noticed his artistic skill.
Florence Peirce with Jessie Fremont Beale, a philanthropist, arranged
for Gibran's introduction to Fred Holland Day in December 1896 who was
an "artistic" photographer.
• After discovering Gibran's aptitude for literature and art,
Day proclaimed him a "natural genius" and became his mentor.
Gibran designed book illustrations, sketches and portraits.
• He then went to Beirut, Lebanon, in 1898 to attend Madrasat-al-Hikmah,
a Maronite college to study Arabic literature and co-founded a literary
• Returning to Boston in 1902, he experienced family tragedy.
During 1902 and 1903 Kamila, one of his sisters and half brother died
of tuberculosis, then his mother died of cancer. Marianna his sister,
a seamstress, supported both herself and Gibran.
Gibran met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, who became his patron and tutor in
English for two decades. The owner of Miss Haskell's School for Girls
and, later, headmistress of the Cambridge School, she believed he would
have an outstanding future and was a major factor in Gibran's success
as an English writer and artist.
• Diverse influences, including the English Romantic poets, mystic
William Blake, and philosopher Nietzsche, combined with his Besharri
experience, shaped Gibran's artistic and literary career.
• Some of his other writings, including “Broken Wings”, “The
Procession”, “The Madman”. “Sand and Foam” and “The
Prophet”. He became the best known of the “Mahjar poets” or
immigrant Arabic writers.
• The slim volume of parables, illustrated with Gibran's drawings,
is one of America's all-time best selling books.
These two aphorisms from “Sand and Foam” convey Gibran's
Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan
How can you sing if your mouth be filled with food? How shall your hand
be raised in blessing if it is filled with gold?
Reproduced from http://www.passia.org with permission (Mahmoud Abu Rumieleh,
EDWARD SAID [Intellectual Scholar, Music Critic, Humanitarian Activist]
• Born in Jerusalem in 1935.
• The late Edward Said was a Literary theorist, respected music
and cultural critic, political activist, and an outspoken advocate
for a Palestinian
state. He was Professor of English and Comparative Literature at
Columbia University, and is regarded as a founding figure in postcolonial theory.
He wrote a column appearing in "The Nation"
• He authored
more than a dozen volumes on everything from the Middle East to English
DR. MICHAEL DeBAKEY [Heart Surgeon]
• Born in 1908 of Lebanese parents who immigrated to the U.S.A.
He volunteered for military service during World War II, becoming the
Director of the Surgical Consultants' Division in the United States Army
Surgeon General's Office. During his term in military service, Dr. DeBakey
proposed a series of mobile field medical units called Mobile Army Surgical
Hospitals (M.A.S.H.) units, which allowed experienced medical personnel
quick access to the wounded, the M.A.S.H. was also adopted during the
Korean War and was highly successful.
Is chancellor emeritus of Baylor College of Medicine and director of
the DeBakey Heart Center, a joint venture of Baylor and The Methodist
DeBakey is world renown as a cardiovascular surgeon, innovator, and medical
DeBakey's fame stems largely from his innovations in treating cardiovascular
conditions. He was the first to do successful excision and grafting of
A pioneer in the development of the artificial heart, he was the first
to use a heart pump successfully in a patient.
DeBakey has also developed more than 70 surgical instruments. While still
a medical student, he devised a pump that years later became one of the
essential components of the heart-lung machine that made open-heart surgery
He also conceived the idea of lining a bypass pump and its connections
with Dacron velour
DR. ELIAS JAMES COREY [Winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize
• Elias James Corey born in July 12, 1928 to Lebanese immigrants
in Methuen, Massachusetts, born William Corey.
His mother changed his name to "Elias" to honor his father
who died eighteen months after the birth of his son. His widowed
mother, brother, two sisters and an aunt and uncle all lived together
in a spacious
house- struggling through the depression. He attended Catholic elementary
school and Lawrence public High School.
• He is a renowned American organic chemist, and has been lauded as one
of the giants of 20th century chemists.
In 1990 he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of “the
theory and methodology of organic synthesis”. Regarded by many
as one of the greatest living chemists, he has developed numerous
synthetic reagents, methodologies, and has advanced the science of
• He was awarded the Japan Prize in 1989.
• He was awarded the American Chemical Society's greatest honor, the Priestley
Medal, in 2004.
• In 1959, he moved to Harvard University, where he is currently
an emeritus professor of organic chemistry.
HASSAN KAMEL AL-SABBAH [Inventor]
• Born in Nabatieh, Lebanon on August 16, 1895. Was an electrical
and electronics research engineer, mathematician and inventor par excellence.
He studied at the American University of Beirut. He taught mathematics
at Imperial College of Damascus, Syria, and at the American University
of Beirut. He died in an automobile accident at Lewis near Elizabeth
Town, N.Y. in 1935.
In 1921, he travelled to the United States and for a short time studied
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the University
of Illinois in 1923.
He worked at the Engineering Laboratory of the General Electric Company
(GE) at Schenectady N.Y. in 1923 where he was engaged in mathematical
and experimental research, principally on rectifiers and inverters.
He received 43 patents covering his work. Among the patents were reported
innovations in television transmission. However, Sabbah had signed a
contract with GE whereby all his inventions became the property of the
company, and so he received a reward of one dollar for each of his patented
His inventions in electricity had a great impact on the development of
20th century technology.
Other Arab Americans who are recognized internationally
Paul Anka - Canadian-born singer-songwriter became one of America’s
first pop teen idols
Joseph Abboud - Fashion designer
Bobby Rahal - Winner of the Indy 500 race
Casey Kasem - Radio legend
Donna Shalala - U.S. Secretary of Health and
Ralph Nader - Consumer protection advocate
Rony Seikaly - Pro Basketball Player
Joseph Haggar - Entrepreneur (Haggar Clothing
Doug Flutie - San Diego Chargers quarterback Chicago
Bill George – Linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer
Joe Lahoud - Major League baseball player
Helen Thomas - Served for 57 years as a correspondent
for United Press International and was dean of the White House
Jacques Nasser - Formerly the president and
CEO of Ford Motor Company
Paula Abdul - Singer-dancer-choreographer
Tony Shalhoub- Actor
Salma Hayek - Actress
to Arab American Institute website for the brochure titled “Arab
Americans Making a Difference” by Casey Kasem, an
Arab American Institute Brochure
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