NAAC - while history was watching

In their 2003 annual dinner event, NAAC featured as special guests, both President Bill Clinton and his rival from 1996, the formidable US Senator, Bob Dole. How many organizations or communities do you know that have been able to pull something like that?

Not a small deed for a group of Albanian-Americans whose parents had come to this country only a few decades ago and had started everything by washing dishes and cleaning buildings.

The National Albanian American Council was founded in 1996 and has a great story that has never been told.

Their annual gala events, with an extraordinary list of the honorees, were only the most visible part of their historic activity. The greater part of NAAC's contribution went in promoting the Albanian national cause in US and in helping peace, democracy, and development in the Balkans.

Albanians never had a better organization in US and yet know so little about it. Most of NAAC’s work went unrecognized and misunderstood. Its best achievements are being already appropriated and its name forgotten.

My book is an effort to shed light on this important time of our Albanian-American history. It will tell the story of NAAC, while describing the circumstances in which it was born, evolved, and functioned. It will place its work in the historic context in which it took place.

This story is important not only to those who lived through those years but to the generations to come.

 More than 100 years after they founded Vatra and lobbied for Albania’s independence, we still worship and try to emulate Noli, Konica, and their friends. Their example has inspired generation after generation in the Albanian-American community.

However, to put some things in perspective, they never had even remotely the scale of access in DC that NAAC had. It would have been unimaginable for Vatra in that time to have the relationship that NAAC established with senior officials in the White House, State Department, with major experts and journalists. Nor could they afford a permanent DC and New York office as NAAC had.

In a way, NAAC was “Vatra of our time” and deserves to be recognized properly by our written history and national collective memory.

No doubt, NAAC’s work didn’t start from the scratch. They stood on the shoulders of Vatra and of many other similar organizations and individuals that preceded them. But, NAAC represents a leap forward, a greater achievement and deserves to be recognized for it.

This book wants to help Albanians understand and appreciate this organization more. Without the example of Noli and Konica, we wouldn’t have what we had in the long century that followed them. We certainly wouldn’t have NAAC. It would be an unforgiveable carelessness in my view to leave Albanians of today and tomorrow ignorant of NAAC’s story and example.

There are no perfect organizations and few of them stay around forever, but NAAC represents one of the finest hours of the Albanian-American community and as a witness of those years, I consider it a duty and a privilege to tell its story to the best of my knowledge and information.

Wish me luck and please help me in this journey.


Ruben Avxhiu


(The funds collected here will be used for research and publication costs. At least two books will come out of this project, one in Albanian and an abridged version of it in English.)

Checks and other forms of contributions are also welcomed. Feel free to write me at [email redacted] about this, for more details or suggestions.)


Ruben Avxhiu
Philadelphia, PA

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