President Jimmy Carter addresses thousands at hte ISNA Convention, 2014.
Photo by Laura Fawaz, TMO
Detroit, MIâ€“ISNA, The Islamic Society of North America, has hosted a religious convention every year since 1963. Their 51st convention was held at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan.
Their last 15 conventions included a special luncheon to thank their high donors and to try to raise more funds. With this yearâ€™s special guest speaker being former President Jimmy Carter, the guests were more than happy to pay the $200 / plate ticket price. ISNA is the largest and most recognizable Islamic Organization in North America, representing Muslims of all sects and ethnic backgrounds. Walking through the halls of the Cobo Center youâ€™ll find Muslims men and women, young and old, black and white, Arabs, Asians, and American reverts. Also found at this convention were Detroitâ€™s local media stations, all wanting to hear what President Carter had to say.
The luncheon began with Qurâ€™anic recitation, as well as a message from President Barack Obama. Followed by a few ISNA representatives thanking the attendees, discussing the history of ISNA, their future plans and introducing their new Executive Director and CEO Hazem Beta. â€œWeâ€™re very happy to be here in Detroit. We worked five years to make this happen,â€ Bata said.
These ISNA representatives shared their views on the future of ISNA that align with their theme of â€œGeneration Rise,â€ where they are preparing for a new generation to take the organization to a new level. One of their missions is to become an asset for Muslim Americans that are diverse, well educated, and a community of professionals in every field from doctors and lawyers, to journalists and filmmakers.
As President Carter took the stage, he was welcomed with a standing ovation and a special video clip highlighting his time as president. In this brief speech, after President Carter gave his appreciations and other opening remarks, he made a powerful statement that drew loud cheers from the audience. â€œWhen I began running for president, I was told that America was a melting pot. And I learned that thatâ€™s not exactly true, America is more like a beautiful mosaic, where people can come here from other countries and from other societies from other religions, from other cultures and keep their own identity, but live in and blend in to make a beautiful picture,â€ President Carter said.
â€œI want to thank you for letting me come to speak to my fellow Americans about something thatâ€™s very important to me.â€ President Carter said as he continued to discuss whatâ€™s heâ€™s been doing since 1988, since he left the White House, which surrounds working at The Carter Center along with his wife. He touched on that in more detail during his second speech later that day to a larger, more diverse crowd. That article coverage is inside this issue.