Associated Files
Title
WBUR Oral History Project: Yusufi Vali
Title
WBUR Oral History Project: Yusufi Vali. Clip 3
Contributor
Vali, Yusufi (Interviewee)
Guberman, Jayne (Interviewer)
Girdharry, Kristi (Recordist)
McDonough, Ryan (Contributor)
Language
English
Date created
April 03, 2014
Type of resource
Sound recording
Genre
Interviews
Oral histories (document genres)
Format
Sound Recording
Digital origin
born digital
Abstract/Description
Countless lives were affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath. The WBUR Oral History Project collects stories from individuals whose lives were immediately and irrevocably changed by these events. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of WBUR, our team of oral historians, and the participation of these interview subjects, Our Marathon has tried to ensure that these stories are not forgotten. We believe that these stories matter, and that they demonstrate the ways historical events transform the lives of the people who lived through them. Oral historians Jayne K. Guberman, Ph.D., and Joanna Shea O'Brien conducted the interviews for this project. Oral History Project Manager Kristi Girdharry, Our Marathon Project Co-Director Jim McGrath, and Community Outreach Lead Joanne DeCaro recorded the interviews and provided research assistance and post-interview processing. McGrath and Our Marathon Audio Technician Ryan McDonough provided sound editing and processing for all of the interviews and clips. The opinions and statements expressed in interviews and related content featured in the WBUR Oral History Project do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Our Marathon, WBUR, Northeastern University, or any employees or volunteers affiliated with these institutions and projects. Our Marathon and The WBUR Oral History project make no assertions about the veracity of statements made by participants in this project. Yusufi Vali, Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC), immigrated as a child with his family from India and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. The events of 9/11 occurred during his first week as a student at Princeton and catapulted him into a spiritual journey to explore his Muslim faith. Coming in the midst of post-graduate fellowships, Yusufi recounts how Barak Obama's speech on race inspired him to leave academia and ultimately become involved in community organizing through the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). As he wrestled with questions raised by 9/11 throughout this period, he learned that Islam was a deeply ethical, compassionate, and peaceful religion that called on Muslims to be of benefit to mankind. As Executive Director of ISBCC, Yusufi seeks to realize that mission with the Muslim community of Boston. To that end, the mosque creates opportunities for its community to meet with public officials, including the governor, to reinforce the message: you are part of the Massachusetts polity with a place at the table. Yusufi notes that many in their diverse community, especially immigrants from repressive societies, are afraid of engaging in the political process. Public support from GBIO interfaith clergy, in response to some political attacks, helped dispel these fears. Yusufi learned about the explosions at the Boston Marathon after witnessing a police motorcade speeding down the boulevard outside the mosque. Over the next few days, he and other mosque leaders learned of community members who had been first responders, even as they reached out to cooperate with city officials and the FBI. Once the suspects were identified as Muslims, they also assisted the Cambridge mosque in its dealings with the media, while encouraging anyone who knew the Tsarnaevs to come forward. Yusufi describes the Muslim community's outrage at the Tsarnaevs' actions, as well as fears that they could once again be targeted as "other." Despite these initial misgivings, Yusufi describes an outpouring of support for the mosque. As fear gave way to relief, these messages of solidarity were reinforced at interfaith gatherings and community vigils across the metropolitan area. Relationships between the religious communities have since been strengthened, as clergy have spoken in each other's places of worship and their congregants have broken bread together and shared their stories. Noting that he has no expertise to explain what motivated the Tsarnaev brothers, Yusufi rejoices in "Boston Strong" as epitomizing people's resilience in the face of trauma and their determination not to let this event divide us. In this clip, Yusufi Vali describes the Muslim community's outrage at the Tsarnaevs' actions, as well as their fears about the bombings' potential impact on the community as a whole.
Notes
The opinions and statements expressed in interviews and related content featured in the WBUR Oral History Project do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Our Marathon, WBUR, Northeastern University, or any employees or volunteers affiliated with these institutions and projects. Our Marathon and The WBUR Oral History project make no assertions about the veracity of statements made by participants in this project.
Source note
The WBUR Oral History Project. Yusufi Vali (Oral History), Jayne Guberman (Oral Historian), Kristi Girdharry (Recorder), Ryan McDonough (Sound Processing and Editing)
Related item
Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive
Subjects and keywords
Boston Marathon Bombing, Boston, Mass., 2013
Permanent URL
Use and reproduction
Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Requests for permission to publish quotations should be addressed to Our Marathon (marathon@neu.edu) and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. Commercial use of content is prohibited. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

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