Ellison Calls for Unity & Action During DC Book Event

July 19, 2014

“If you want to change something, do something. Don't be a professional opinion-haver.” - Congressman Keith Ellison

This week, MPAC co-sponsored a discussion and book signing with Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) alongside Busboys and Poets and Crescent Moon Nights. Ellison shared his unique experience as the first American Muslim elected to Congress, through passages from his new book "My Country 'Tis of Thee: My Family, My Faith, Our Future.” Ellison introduced his book to the audience and proceeded to have a candid conversation with the packed audience addressing many tough questions.

“My Country ‘Tis of Thee” provides a thought-provoking look at America and what needs to change to accommodate different races and beliefs. Ellison drew from his personal experiences, revealing his views on what divides Americans and what can bring us together.

During the event, Ellison addressed various issues, including calls to boycott the White House Iftar.

"Martin Luther King was protesting the way he did because he could not vote," said Ellison. He also tackled the current crisis in Gaza and the underlying problem within our community. "After the Gaza crisis is over, because it will be over, how many of us will be on Capitol Hill to make a change?” he asked the audience.  

Ellison reflected on how advocacy and engagement are effective tools to make change.

"Disengagement isn’t going to get you anywhere," said Ellison. "If we just show up, we’ll change the conversation."

While Ellison focused on discussing his book, he also explored the struggles of African-Americans and addressed numerous foreign policy issues including the use of drones. He further discussed the importance of American Muslims advocating on Capitol Hill, rather than being “crisis-oriented” and responding solely when a tragedy occurs.

"We're not willing to go out on the Hill and advocate, but when a tragedy happens, we make outrageous demands,” he said.

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