Though the organization’s name is now different, the current shape of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) is a direct outgrowth of Linda’s work when the organization was affiliated with the national American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). Linda was a dear colleague, comrade, mentor and friend and is remembered for the deep dedication and commitment she showed for the Arab community and this organization, as one of its first staff members. Linda was an important pillar of our organization, interrupting her career as a lawyer to dedicate herself full time as a community organizer in 2001 after 9/11 and throughout the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq – one of the most difficult times our community in the U.S. has faced.
“We need to send the message to the Bush Administration that the Arab community is part of the national fabric of this nation and should be respected.”
- Linda Sherif (ACLU of Northern California Press Release, March 21, 2003)
Linda worked endless hours to lead and support organizing against post-9/11 backlash, against the “special registration” of immigrants from Asian and African countries and the Iraq invasion, and in support of Palestinian liberation during the second intifada. Most notable from her time as our staff person was her leading role in efforts to empower the local Arab community through legal services and outreach education. She took a strong stance to ensure that while ADC-SF tackled long-term structural issues, it must also act as a community resource for those hardest hit – and often most invisible- in the wake of 9-11 and the Iraq war.
Linda helped ensure that ADC’s organizing efforts worked in tandem with direct services and education for those facing legal abuse and hate violence – particularly the local Arab immigrant community. She spearheaded grassroots outreach efforts to areas in the Tenderloin and Mission; led Know-Your-Rights trainings at local mosques, churches and community centers; helped operate a hate violence and legal rights response hotline; and developed a continuing legal education program to inform Bay Area lawyers about hate violence and immigration issues in the Arab and South Asian community post 9/11. She brought ADC-SF closer to the broader immigrant rights community, coordinating alongside National Lawyers Guild, La Raza Centro Legal, ASATA and other groups throughout the Bay Area. Whether it was the “Special Registration” program, harassment by the Transportation Security Administration, or the questioning of Iraqi nationals in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, Linda worked diligently with ADC-SF’s board and allies to find a solution rooted in and serving the community.
Linda also offered legal support to the 79 students and community members who were arrested in a civil disobedience action on the UC Berkeley campus in support of divestment from Israel. For many youth who were interning at ADC-SF and NLG at the time, she served as a mentor and an example of dedication and devotion to our communities.
Her tireless legal work often flew under the radar, but to the many community members who received legal services or gained access to empowering information, to those that she listened to and helped stand for, her work will always be remembered.
In her work, she left no stone unturned when she took on an issue. She was a deeply critical thinker and completely committed to justice for all people. She worked tirelessly because she held herself to a standard of excellence in her service to her community.
Linda was a constant supporter of other organizations, volunteering with the Arab Film Festival, and a regular attendee at Arab community events; all this engagement came from her profound love for our Arab peoples, our cultures, art, stories, and her absolute commitment to social justice.
Our deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends. We remember Linda as a friend and hero and honor the legacy she has left for this organization and our community.