By DIANE W. WILLIAMS
The AFSCME family is stunned and saddened by the tragic death of 21-year-old Nadia Mourtaj, a 2018 summer intern in DC 37’s Organizing Department.
Nadia and her sister Zeyneb, 15, were in a car accident on Dec. 31, in Charles County, Md. Zeyneb was killed on impact and Nadia died nine days later. They are survived by their mother, Sara Ghebre, and father, Abdelilah Mourtaj.
“Nadia was a bright star whose enthusiasm for life and the labor movement was contagious,” said DC 37 organizer Nichole Laing, who helped train the young activist seen in this union video.
After Nadia completed the internship, Organizing Dept. Director Barbara Terrelonge said, “Nadia visited New York City in September, marching with DC 37 in the annual Labor Day Parade.”
“There were many reasons why I chose Nadia for AFSCME’s program, but what stood out to me was her extensive experience fighting for social justice and her interest in global trade,” said Deanna Richards, education coordinator of the Union Scholars Program at AFSCME in Washington. D.C. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is DC 37’s national union.
A graduate of Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa., Mourtaj majored in political science and international studies.
“When I interviewed Nadia, we instantly connected. She was such a joy on that Skype call and when our interview was over, I told my colleague, ‘I have to have her in my program,’” Richards recalled. “She had so much fire and passion to just make the world a better place and she truly did.”
Mourtaj wrote on her Go Fund Me page, “If you know me, you know that I have a passion for human and civil rights, and every step I’ve taken–whether it be in my internships, programs, volunteering, or educational journey–is to provide some sort of public service to the world, and be the voice for those who cannot be heard.”
Mourtaj planned to study abroad and Richards wrote a recommendation letter for a scholarship that Mourtaj eventually won.
“We were both so happy,” Richards said. “Nadia was pursuing her dreams and had also applied for an internship with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It was such an exciting time for her.”
The DC 37 Blog is an official online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 121,000 public service workers in New York City and surrounding areas