The ACCC was established by a network of Arab immigrants and Arab-Americans who thought it was important to have a centralized community center which would be home to all in the community. After collective conversations among various members of the Arab community in the Bay Area and grassroots fundraising efforts, the ACCC opened its doors at 2 Plaza Street in 1973. The center rapidly became a community institution which welcomed Arabs of all national backgrounds, religious affiliations and immigrant experiences. The ACCC produced cultural events including concerts, book readings and courses for Arabic language, cooking, dance and more. The ACCC also initiated scholarship funds for young Arab students and hosted regular delegations from the Arab world, as well as prominent Arab intellectuals and academics.
In 1995, the ACCC hosted its first annual Arab Cultural Festival in the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. Each year, the ACCC's cultural festival has brought thousands of Bay Area Arab and non-Arab community members together to take pride in celebrating our culture, homelands and traditions. The festival features live cultural performances, an Arab arts and crafts bazaar, Arab cuisine, children's activities and more activities for the whole family.
In 1999, the ACCC conducted a needs assessment survey with the support of various foundations and the city of San Francisco. The results of the 1999 survey and the 2000 US Census inspired the ACCC to establish a social services program. Throughout the last decade, the ACCC programs have expanded to included social services, youth mentorship and college preparation programs, after-school tutoring services, ESL and life-empowerment classes for immigrant Arab women, health education, cultural competency presentations, domestic violence and sexual assault case management and prevention, in addition to the original platform of Arabic language classes, music, dance and cooking classes and cultural productions.
As ACCC programs and services have expanded, we have joined in many community partnerships on both local and national levels. The ACCC regularly partners with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), the Arab Film Festival (AFF), the Asian Women's Shelter, and has partnered with Union Square's Jewels in the Square concert series, the Legion of Honor and the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.
In 2009 the ACCC began developing its civic engagement programming. In 2010, this program allowed the ACCC to be a central community organizer working toward convincing the Arab community to identify as Arab on the 2010 census. ACCC's Civic Engagement Program has engaged the Arab community in conversations, campaigns and projects that address social justice issues of concern to our community.
The ACCC's greatest strength is that it has remained a staple physical and metaphoric space where the community can meet and converse during pressing times. From discussing war and occupation in our homelands to discussing racial profiling in our daily lives, to practicing how to play Arab instruments or just enjoying a great home-cooked Arab meal with friends, the ACCC has been dedicated to empowering and engaging the Arab and Arab-American community.