To begin the Share Your Story series this Sunday August 2, One Church welcomes special guest John Akram. John will share with us his experience of growing up as a Muslim African-American during the Civil Rights movement.
John Akram grew up in a family of steel workers in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. During high school, he participated in drama, football, and track. In 1964, an athletic scholarship led him to Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida, where he set records in pole vault and was considered a 1968 Olympics hopeful.
After two years of college, John was drafted into the Air Force to serve in Vietnam as an aircraft maintenance technician. During his tours of duty, he completed associates degrees in both social services and aircraft maintenance technology. After eight years of service, John joined the Arizona National Guard and pursued a career in airline administration and operations.
Returning to active duty in the Air Force, he completed a bachelors degree in professional aeronautics and a masters degree in organizational management. John’s tours of duty took him to Europe and the Middle East. Seeing combat yet again in Operation Desert Storm, he was commended for his work as an aircraft maintenance supervisor at Dhahran Air Force base in Saudi Arabia.
During his tour of duty in Saudi Arabia, John made pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca to perform the Umrah, the lesser Hajj, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Upon returning to the states, he joined the Muslim American Military Association, authorized by the Chief of Staff Chaplain in Washington, D.C. One year later, MAMA took 100 military personnel to the Hajj in Mecca.
John catalyzed mosques at every Air Force installation to which he was assigned, each authorized by the Installation Chaplain and his Base Commanders. On each base, John conducted Islamic services to enhance spiritual and moral development.
After 25 years of military service, John retired from the Air Force in 1996 and began working as a human resources manager both in Phoenix and at the Pinal Country Human Resources Department.
John and his wife, Elitha, raised five children in Phoenix and managed several home-based businesses together.