By Marzia Chowdhury
The Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus hosted its first annual Bangladeshi American Night at the Balkan American Center in Troy, Michigan for community members to familiarize with political figures prior to upcoming elections. Distinguished guests included Michigan politicians U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressmen Gary Peters, Sander Levin, Hansen Clarke, John Conyers and Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer.
The theme of the night was a hopeful one, one that looks forward to a promising future. Dinner was served promptly at 6:30 p.m. as Michiganâ€™s officials made their way up to the podium and commended the Bangladeshi community for how far they had come, their contribution to Michigan and the United States.
Another major theme of the night was the re-election of President Barack Obama. One after another the officials emphasized the importance of putting President Obama back in office. â€œThis upcoming election will decide who we are as Americans. There are very important American values at stake in this election,â€ said Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee which oversees the international food aid efforts. She vowed to continue work to support efforts that provide $40 million in food assistance to Bangladesh each year.
There was a special mention of U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley of New York who founded the Congressional Bangladesh Caucus of which Congressman Clarke is a member.
Clarke spoke about his travels to Bangladesh a few years ago and how that impacted his outlook on education. â€œWhen I finally visited my fatherâ€™s home in Sylhet, over 1000 people greeted me there. That is when I truly understood why my father, why our people are so committed to education. Because we understand that thatâ€™s the way not only that you can fully develop yourself to your fullest potential but that is the way to really contribute to society and make this world a better place to live; through education.â€ Clarke asked for support for his bill, the Student Loan Forgiveness Act, â€œSo we can forgive these student loans and give everyone a chance to have a great life.â€
BADC President Nazmul Hassan discussed the need for Duty Free, Quota Free Access of Bangladesh Garment products to the United States. â€œWe ask for a fair playing field. There are countries who are paying very minimum tariff and they donâ€™t have any quota, but our country does. We want Congress to look at this issue and let U.S. know what the standard is. We want to live up to those standards,â€ said Hassan.
The night ended with a promise to get President Obama back in office, and a 3-hour concert with Bangladeshi artists from Bangladesh and New York.
The Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus is a grass root political platform of the Bangladeshi community in mainstream U.S. politics. BADCâ€™s goals include promoting and developing leadership within the community to run for elected office, promoting small business entrepreneurship in the community, working on educational and community developmental projects and promoting youth and womenâ€™s involvement in the U.S. political process. The organization was founded in 2005.
More than 600 people attended the event.