Born in New Jersey and raised in San Jose, California, Margari Aziza Hill is a wife and a mother, a writer, an educator and a community leader who has committed her life to many educational causes related to African American Muslims and larger communities.

She earned her Master’s degree in History of the Middle East and Islamic Africa from Stanford University in 2006 and received her undergraduate degree in History from Santa Clara University. Living through many compelling and impactful life experiences as an African American Muslim woman, she has been motivated in the pursuit of truth in the subjects of Islam, education, race and gender. Through her writings, she has expressed her struggles and aspirations growing up as an underprivileged youth.

As a child, Margari vividly recalls being subject to bullying and racism from her peers. She was taunted and referred to as a “slave” and told to return back to Africa—which immensely affected her outlook on life. By the 3rd grade, she would ask herself, “Why does everyone hate Black people?” It was in the sixth grade where she learned about Black History Month for the first time: “My teacher turned to me, the only identifiably black student in class, and asked ‘Margari, were any of your ancestors slaves?’ I shrunk in my seat.” In junior high school, she moved to East San Jose where she was given a different view of African History. “They opened my eyes to the liberation struggle of my people,” she says. Margari converted to Islam in 1993.

Margari is currently the co-founder and Programming Director of Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (Muslim ARC), serves to help fight the entrenched racism found within Muslim communities. Margari also serves on the advisory board of CAIR-LA. She is also the assistant editor at AltMuslimah (online media platform discussing gender and Islam) and co-founder of Muslims Make it Plain. She is on the advisory council of MPower Change and volunteers for the Middle Ground Muslim Center, where her husband Marc Manley is the religious director. She has organized conferences, charitable drives, and notable crowdfunding campaigns including: #Muslims4Flint, #OurThreeBrothers, and #MuslimsunitedforSanBernardino.

Margari began blogging in 2006, putting her experiences as a disadvantaged minority in perspective. Her blog “Just Another Angry Black Muslim Woman” put her in the public spotlight—and from there she went on to write articles for Time, SISTERS, Islamic Monthly, Al Jazeera English and the Huffington Post.

“Over the years, I have found that children of African immigrants and descendants of enslaved Africans, are often silenced and sidelined in discourses on what it means to be black in this country, as well as what it means to be Muslim. I experience marginalization in my intersecting identities as a Black American Muslim woman—But Black Muslim women remain some of the most powerful voices to challenge dominant narratives.”

Margari has taught and designed curricula in various institutions from elementary school—to teaching World Religions at the college-level. Her personal research mainly focuses on race in North American Muslim communities. She has given lectures on various university campuses and community centers throughout the country. Her writing on countering violent extremism, Black Muslim Identity, fighting racism within the Muslim community and American Muslim stories have altered narratives and started a collective movement of self-awareness. Her life struggle of being a minority within a minority—really exemplifies the resilience of the human spirit and how adversity in one’s life can motivate someone to make a positive change for future generations to come. She defines her vision as dedicating her life to the pursuit of racial equality and justice, within an Islamic context.

“In this competitive and unequal world, we don’t have control over the privileges that are bestowed upon us— or the doors that open up for us. What matters is that when we walk through some doors we kick them open so hard— that they stay open. What matters is what we do with those opportunities and how we serve others with the privileges we have been granted.”

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