Noor Alexandria Abukaram is a freshman at The Ohio State University. She’s passionate about fashion design and sports, including soccer, track and cross country. But her life changed in 2019 when she was disqualified for wearing a hijab in a cross country race.
Noor had just run a new personal best. But her DQ ignited global media attention – her story of religious discrimination was quickly featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Good Morning America, Time Magazine, CNN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN and more. That’s when Noor took the moment head on to make change in her home state. She worked with Ohio State Senator Theresa Gavarone to pass Senate Bill 181, which prohibits organizations from implementing discriminatory practices in extracurricular activities.
Her testimony garnered overwhelming praise from state legislators and support from the Ohio Jewish Communities, Christian Community and the ACLU of Ohio. The new law protects students’ right to wear a hijab in school sports and extracurriculars. Noor now also manages the Let Noor Run (LNR) initiative, which aims to “fight discrimination and injustices that hinder us from doing what we love.”
“I hope that the next generation of athletes are able to excel at their sport with less barriers that hinder them from being who they are while doing what they love”, she says. “I also hope that it will be seen as possible that anyone can be the face of sport, or that the face of sport can look like someone like me.”
Noor wants the next generation to know that they can enact change. “Lawmakers are there to hear your concerns as constituents, so be storytellers and write that letter or have that meeting because you never know who's listening.”
You can follow her on Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/55109230 and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nooralexandria/?hl=en. And, to follow Noor’s movement, check out: https://letnoorrun.com/
Photo Credit: Julie Paszczykowski