By Heba Khalil
HARLEM, N.Y. – Yusef Salaam’s New York City Council victory during the June 2023 Democratic primary race is a significant milestone for our city and is a symbol of progress for Muslim Americans across the country.
His win showcases the vital role of voting, especially in local elections and is a powerful testament to the growing power of Muslim Americans as integral members of our country’s democratic political process.
As an African American and one of the Exonerated Five, Salaam has experienced firsthand the devastating consequences of systemic injustices, particularly those in the criminal justice system, which targets Black and brown men disproportionately.
His story, unfortunately, resonates with many members of our, and other, communities — but his victory in the face of these injustices is a testament to his perseverance and is an inspiration.
Further, this election win is a powerful indication of the growing recognition and acceptance of Muslim Americans as candidates, elected leaders, and integral members of the political process. Salaam’s win ensures that our community’s concerns and aspirations will be addressed at ever-higher levels of decision making.
The strength of the community in turning out the vote for Salaam demonstrates the power of collective action and grassroots engagement, as well as a shared commitment to building a better future.
Responding to his exceptional win for his first political seat, Salaam stated, “A new Harlem Renaissance isn’t something that comes about easily, and I’m thrilled that the first step in that has come about with my election. I look forward to being a bridge to all New Yorkers and building diverse coalitions.
“The world goes as Harlem goes and I’m excited to hit the ground running in the New York City Council.”
We look forward to seeing the influence Salaam will have on the City Council. He carries the torch of change, illuminating a path toward a more inclusive political system. He motivates us to think of new ways to effectively address criminal justice reform, as well as to counter pervasive racial bias.
His participation in the City Council will serve as a reminder of the importance of equity, justice, and the urgent need for comprehensive reform.
Emgage New York Metro PAC’s endorsement of Salaam is rooted in our commitment to our vision of an inclusive and pluralistic America.
We understand that representation matters, and that by uplifting leaders and changemakers in our community, we are affecting real change, both now and in the future.
Salaam’s election will further break down barriers for Muslim Americans and build a path towards an equitable, just, and diverse future.
Salaam’s victory is a triumph for the Harlem District 9 community, for New Yorkers, and for Muslim Americans as a whole. We at Emgage PAC New York Metro celebrate this win and vow to continue working with our partners and community members to build a brighter future for New York City.
This moment reminds us that all politics is local: voting in the New York City Council election is of utmost importance for the future of New York, and for the future of our greater Muslim American community.
(Heba Khalil is the Executive Director of Emgage PAC New York Metro. Emgage PAC is the nation’s largest Muslim American bi-partisan political action committee that supports local, state, and federal candidates who share our vision of an inclusive and pluralistic America. For more information, visit emgagepac.org.)