The US State Department announced that April will be Arab American Heritage Month in the United States to celebrate and acknowledge all the contributions made by Arab Americans throughout history.

“This month, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs will highlight Arab Americans in our bureau advancing U.S. foreign policy and national security efforts in the United States and across Europe. This effort is a part of a broader campaign celebrating diversity and inclusion as core American values,” the State Department shared.

In the past, several states including Arkansas, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia had independently acknowledged April as the month to celebrate Arab American heritage, but the State Department hadn’t recognized it until now.

“The United States is home to more than 3.5 million Arab Americans representing a diverse array of cultures and traditions. Like their fellow citizens, Americans of Arab heritage are very much a part of the fabric of this nation,” Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, said in a video statement.

While this is a big step toward encouraging diversity and equality, Arab American Heritage month still needs to be recognized by the entire US government. Representative Rashida Talib is a strong driving force behind changing this; she introduced a bill to Congress in 2019 that is still pending. Talib aims to solidify April as the month of Arab American recognition, which would foster a higher degree of cultural acceptance and understanding.

According to the Arab American National Museum, Arab Americans trace their origins to 22 countries across the Middle East and North Africa: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.