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Before organizing the Women’s March on Washington, Linda Sarsour fought for Muslim holidays in NYC schools

When Brooklynite Linda Sarsour comes to Washington inauguration weekend as the co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, it will be another landmark moment in her 15 years of public service fighting for Muslim rights.

As head of the Arab American Association of New York, Sarsour helped end the NYPD’s practice of spying on Muslim American citizens and was instrumental in the effort for New York to close schools on two Muslim high holy holidays, a first for any big city in the US.

“Growing up as a New York City public school student, every time there was a Muslim high holy holiday, I had to choose between going to school and celebrating my faith,” she says.

Her relentless pursuit brought her up against the most powerful man in New York City. “I was in a meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg face to face, and he said, ‘Hell no, not on my watch.’”

In the country’s largest school system, changing the academic calendar is not easy. “I have three children that go to New York City public schools, and the last thing I wanted to do was turn around and tell my kids, ‘Guess what? We gave up.’”

In our latest installment of The Secret Life of Muslims video series, Sarsour explains how she was able to say to her children: “I did this for you.”