Celebrating Abdullahi Jama – A Legacy for Justice

The OneAmerica Family was devastated to hear of the recent loss of Abdullahi Jama. Abdullahi was one of the founders of OneAmerica (then Hate Free Zone) and was a pillar of strength, integrity and justice for the organization and community at large. In life, Abdullahi was wise and thoughtful, optimistic and generous, passionate and humble. He was also brilliant.

Through OneAmerica, Abdullahi put into motion his vision for a powerful movement with the strength and resilience to create a more just society rooted in a commitment to human rights. Over the years he led countless victories, from the fight for $15 minimum wage to helping many East Africans get civically engaged. More importantly, he believed and invested deeply in the power of youth, particularly young Somali and East Africans, to lead us into the future. He was a mentor and source of guidance for so many of us. We would not be the organization we are today without his leadership, support and counsel. 

Beyond OneAmerica, Abdullahi leaves a luminous legacy, a beautiful family and generations of community leaders carrying his hope. Our condolences go out to his family and all those grieving for the loss of this incredible leader.

He’ll be missed, but we’re committed to ensuring his legacy will live on through his family, through OneAmerica, and through the broader community.

Here are a few words from our founder, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who worked closely with Abdullahi.

“I am heartbroken to know that Abdullahi Jama has passed away. Abdullahi worked with me as organizer, advisor, guide, and friend for more than a decade at OneAmerica. He was instrumental to all the work we did — from helping to organize the first ever Muslim Civic Engagement Project to the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride to all the organizing within the East African community that helped to build and foster strong relationships and the organizations that came from that.

“Abdullahi knew how to organize. He knew how to listen and to mediate. He knew how to fight for what is right. He helped ensure that OneAmerica took on so many of our fights for the Somali community — from preventing thousands from being deported, to the work of rights on the job for shuttlers at the airport or at companies so that Muslim workers could practice their religion. As I document in my book, he also helped with the necessary organizing in SeaTac around the fight for $15. And so much of the ecosystem today owes itself to this brilliant, humble servant of justice.

“Few know — because he never spoke about it — the incredible work that Abdullahi did in Somalia for justice, the risks he took, and the counsel he provided to the UN Secretary General even while in Seattle for the cause of peace in East Africa. He was deeply loyal and I trusted him on everything. We went through so much building OneAmerica together, and there was never a single instance where his counsel to me was not true and thoughtful. His wisdom, maturity, and grace was always ever-present and I learned so much from him.

“I will miss him so deeply. My heart goes out to his family of whom he was so proud, and to the entire community who knew him and was buoyed by his spirit. Rest in power, my dear friend. Your legacy is everywhere.”

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