Preserving the history of the Arab American community is a primary goal of the AAHC. It is important to document the beginnings of the Arab American community and the growth of the community over time. The work of documenting and preserving Arab American history was originally taken up by the late founder of the AAHC, Anthony Mansour, and has continued for over 40 years. Look below to see the process of preserving the history of the Arab American community in Flint.
Starting in the early 1980s, the Founder & President of the AAHC, Anthony (Tony) Mansour, began interviewing Arab American families who had helped build the Arab community in Flint. This work helped to trace the history of the Arab American community in Flint and build a sense of collective identity. In 1985, the work was titled the Oral History Project. Tony continued these interviews through the 1990s gathering as much information as he could. Many of these interviews were recorded on video tapes and cassettes for preservation.
In 1997, the Ruth Mott Foundation provided a grant to formalize the project allowing for more interviews and better preservation of the records of the interviews. The work continued for 7 more years until 2004, when Tony finished the first version of the history project titled The Peddler to Merchant Generation: Our Arab American Pioneers. The book traced the history of the Arab American community of Flint through specific families that were interviewed, chronicling their stories and family histories.
After multiple years of revision, Tony completed the final copy of the project In 2010 naming it Our Pioneers from Al Watan. This work was the continuation of The Peddler to Merchant Generation: Our Arab American Pioneers and is the crowning achievement of Tony’s history project in which he spent 30 years recording the stories of Arab American families in Flint. The 330 page book covers 83 major Arab American families of Flint who are highlighted through detailed historical records, photographs, and interviews. Hard copies of the book are kept in the AAHC office.