Zohran Kwame Mamdani

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Zohran Kwame Mamdani (L)

Zohran Kwame Mamdani is a socialist Muslim in the New York Assembly, District 36. He was born in Uganda and moved to America when he was seven.

Zohran Kwame Mamdani co-founded Bowdoin College's first Students for Justice in Palestine chapter "and later organize[d] across the country with different progressive organizations seeking to win national elections as well as expand healthcare coverage."[1]

Campaign

On his campaign website, Zohran Kwame Mamdani said in part:[2]

I am running for State Assembly because it’s time to guarantee housing to all New Yorkers as a right, regardless of ability to pay. It’s time to desegregate our schools, fully eliminate cash bail, ban solitary confinement, fund and fix the MTA [New York Subway System], end workplace discrimination, and fight for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice for the many, not the few.
This election isn’t about a single candidate — it’s about a movement. As a democratic socialist, I know that we’ll never win the rights we all deserve - rights to healthcare, housing, education, nutrition, childcare, and public power - without a grassroots movement of the working class rising up to demand them. Another world is possible, but only if we fight for it together.

Background

Zohran Kwame Mamdani was born in Kampala, Uganda, to inspiring parents: his father is the anti-colonialist scholar Mahmood Mamdani, and his mother is the filmmaker Mira Nair (Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding). But the candidate’s story begins before that.
His great-great-grandmother came to East Africa from Gujarat, India. Four or five of her children had died very young; according to family legend, a village elder told her the only solution was to “cross the ocean.” East Africa had a significant South Asian population; the British brought Indians over as indentured laborers to help build the railroads in the nineteenth century, many of whom stayed and prospered.
The family lived first in Tanzania, then Uganda, for generations. In August 1972, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin announced on the radio that every Ugandan of South Asian origin had to leave the country within ninety days. Instantly the family was rendered stateless. They weren’t even allowed to bring more than $50 out of the country. They lost everything.
Mamdani’s father’s family lived in refugee camps in Britain, facing attacks from skinheads and exclusion from British society. Zohran recalls a story his father recently told him about their time in Britain. “After they left the camp,” he says, “they moved into a more permanent residence. They would still, every Sunday go to Gatwick [airport in London] and watch the plane take off to Entebbe, Uganda’s international terminal, and would just sit and let their hearts kind of soar with the plane as it climbed in the sky and just crash as the plane disappeared. Every week they would go and they would watch.”
Eventually Idi Amin was overthrown, and the family returned to Kampala. Yet, Mamdani says, “they were never able to reclaim who they were before expulsion.” His grandfather had been a poet and auctioneer, a much-loved community leader. After the expulsion, his grandson says, “he never worked a day in his life. The only way I knew him was apparently as a shadow of himself.” Zohran Kwame Mamdani, who lived in Kampala until he was seven, when his family came to the United States, says his uncle and grandparents would always ask, “Where are we going to settle?” He reflects, “Even though they were back in Uganda, there was a sense that this place could never be permanent, could never be home.”[3]

'Support 13 Socialists Running For Office'

An Actblue Campaign promoted by the Democratic Socialists of America was promoted for New York socialists in December, 2020:[4]

"Support 13 Socialists Running For Office"
"DSA For The Many is back and we're bigger than ever before - way bigger."
"In 2020, you helped send Jabari, Julia, Phara, Marcela, and Zohran to Albany to fight for working-class New Yorkers. This year, our state slate has grown to include fellow incumbent comrade Emily Gallagher, five newly endorsed challengers - David Alexis, Samy Nemir Olivares, Illapa Sairitupac, Kristen Gonzalez, and Keron Alleyne - plus Mid-Hudson Valley DSA-endorsed Sarahana Shrestha and Lower Hudson Valley-endorsed Vanessa Agudelo. All 13 (!) of our candidates need your help to win reelection and continue our fight."
"DSA For The Many was able to send five proud socialists to Albany without a cent of real estate or corporate money. We raised thousands of dollars because people like you believed a better future was possible."
"Currently, DSA for the Many is supporting:"
"In 2022, our slate needs to be ready to fight off a real challenge from the Democratic Establishment. We need to be prepared to run and support ten campaigns to defend our movement and keep socialism strong in New York."
"That’s why we still need your help: because every donation helps to power a socialist future. One that won’t exist without the support of folks like you."
"We can win, but only together."

QUIP endorsement

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"DSA NY state legislature victories"

From Liza Featherstone in Jacobin:

In New York, the organization won five contests for state-level government, reelecting Julia Salazar to State Senate and electing Jabari Brisport to join her, while three more DSA-endorsed candidates (Marcela Mitaynes, Phara Souffrant Forrest, and Zohran Mamdani) head to the state assembly. Two other DSA members, Emily Gallagher and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, both formidable activists whose races were not endorsed by the organization, also won seats in the assembly. [5]

DSA for the Many slate

A belated congratulations to the socialist sweep known as the DSA for the Many slate: Jabari Brisport, Julia Salazar, Marcela Mitaynes, Phara Souffrant Forrest and Zohran Kwame Mamdani. This is what happens when everyday people — a nurse, a teacher, a tenant organizer, and a housing counselor — get organized and run on socialist values. We’re so excited to see what this group will do to change politics as usual and how they will continue to fight for and with the working class.[6]

DSA comrade

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Eric Thor October 21, 2019 ·

Yall! My DSA comrade and friend Zohran is running for NY Assembly in Astoria. He's been an inspiring and effective leader organizing for real political change in the neighborhood. His first hand experience with the housing crisis as a housing counselor helping families face off against eviction has moved him to seek elected office.

I had the privilege to make a website for his campaign. It's a pretty fresh v1, will be tightening it up and expanding it out over the months. Thanks Aviva Oskow for the logo and James Thatcher for the map embed. Also huge thank you to Zohran for running and taking a chance on me!

Feel free to donate and signup to volunteer if you're in the area. Zohran is an absolute force that will bring the demands of the working class to the halls of Albany.

Zohran Kwame Mamdani is a housing conselor and is running to represent NY's 36th Assembly District in Astoria.

DSA endorsed

Circa December 2019, Democratic Socialists of America endorsed Samelys Lopez in a crowded race in the 15th Congressional District and Zohran Kwame Mamdani for Assembly in the 36th District.

Zohran Kwame Mamdani has been an organizer for the DSA since 2017, and acted as one of the organization’s key coordinators in its efforts to support Tiffany Caban during her campaign for Queens district attorney, according to a DSA press release.

The key focus of Mamdani’s campaign – the only focus, really – is housing. Mamdani wants to create “ironclad” protections for those who find housing through the private market, bring private housing under community ownership and eliminating 485-a and 421-a tax abatements that encourage luxury residential developments.

The district encompasses Queens’ Astoria neighborhood in addition to parts of Long Island City and has been represented by Democratic Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas since she took office in 2011. Simotas is known for sponsoring a significant amount of legislation aimed at protecting victims of sexual and discriminatory harassment.[7]

Team El-Yateem

Khader El-Yateem September 24, 2017:

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  1. TakeAKnee #StandWithKaep #TeamElYateem — with Murad Awawdeh, Amanda Philip, Linda Sarsour, Somia Elrowmeim, Widad Indie, Brittany Anderson, Abdullah Younus, Rabyaah Althaibani, Khader El-Yateem and Zohran Kwame Mamdani.

South Brooklyn DSA Official Closed Group

Members of the South Brooklyn Democratic Socialists of America Official Closed Facebook Group, as of June 17, 2018 included Zohran Kwame Mamdani.[8]

Board members

Muslim Democratic Club of New York April 1 2018:

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Congratulations to the newly elected 2018 Muslim Democratic Club of New York (MDCNY) Board Members!

MDCNY is the first city-wide Muslim American Democratic club in the country, dedicated to empowering the Muslim community though political activism. Join our movement. #MuslimDems #MuslimVOTE — with Murad Awawdeh, MK Mohammad Khan, Rama Issa-Ibrahim, Sadaf Mehdi, Mamadou Sire Bah, Aliya Latif, Ali Najmi, Faiza N. Ali and Zohran Kwame Mamdani.

References

  1. Assemblymember Zohran K. Mamdani Assembly District 36 (accessed on June 12, 2022)
  2. ABOUT ZOHRAN (accessed on June 12, 2022)
  3. [1]
  4. Support 13 Socialists Running For Office (accessed on June 12, 2022)
  5. [2]
  6. [3]
  7. [4]
  8. [5]