By Nargis Hakim Rahman
Chairman of the Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus, Nazmul Hassan Shahin, was invited to the White House for a reception to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage on June 22.
The social event was held for networking opportunities for 200 U.S. political representatives in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Hassan said President Obama greeted the crowd with a speech and shook hands with those in the front row and with others who were close enough to reach him.
Hassan took the 10-15 seconds he had with the president to thank him for his work (the healthcare, Wallstreet and housing reforms). He said, â€œChange is not easy Mr. President. You are doing a fantastic job. Under your leadership America got back its respect in [the] outside world,â€ he said partly referring to an ongoing relationship with Bangladesh with the appointment of a new ambassador to Bangladesh, Dan Mozena, in May.
He also handed Obama a thank-you letter on behalf of the BADC and an organizational newsletter, which the president accepted and said, â€œKeep doing the great work.â€
It was a great once-in-a lifetime experience, said Hassan, from visiting the White House to shaking hands with the president. It was a, â€œGreat honor as a Bangladeshi American to represent everyone [in] BADC,â€ he said.
BADC is an affiliate of the Michigan Democratic Caucus with 71 members in a â€œfour-tierâ€ organization. The executive council is comprised of members from the three entities: a task force committee; a congressional district committee with members who work closely with congress members and elected officials in those districts on issues relating to Bangladeshi Americans; and a standing committee with various branches including women, fundraising and student groups. An advisory council works with the organization.
Hassan describes the grass root organization as, â€œThe voice of Bangladeshi Americans in mainstream politics working on issues important in our community.â€ The organization worked with democratic leaders in the past local state and presidential elections, fundraising and helping political candidates interact with the Bangladeshi Americans (a growing population in Michigan), such as Congressman Hansen Clarke.
States such as California, Delaware, Minnesota, and Texas, with Bangladeshi American populations are interested in replicating the organization, said Hassan. The organization may create a national board to work with all states.
Hassan has been working with BADC since 2009. He received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award at the Annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in April 16, 2011 by the Michigan Democratic Caucus for â€œan individual who works promoting the equality and inclusion of the people for every race, color, creed and gender in the Democratic Party,â€ said the website www.michbd.com, which reports on Bangladeshi news in Michigan.
BADC leaders and supporters motivate and energize me to do my job, said Hassan. â€œThe Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the Michigan Democratic Party is a symbol of acknowledgement of our hard work.â€
Hassan said he hopes more youth will get politically involved and help bring about a change in government by building the organization and leadership to, â€œCarry out the momentum and take it farther than we have created.â€
Upon request of Hassan, Congressman John Conyers Jr. offered internships to youth during a Muslim Ummah of North America north zone conference on June 5. Hassan encourages people to apply. He said Bangladeshi American youth have potential to rise up and become political leaders. The possibilities and opportunities are endless.
Elections for BADC will be held in November.
For more information visit www.mibadc.org, or to get involved contact Executive Vice Chair Ripa Haq at 248-520-1921.