Muslim Journeys: American Stories, the second in a series of seminars under the Bridging Cultures Bookshelf Collection, will be presented at the Eddie Mae Herron Center Tuesday, October 22, at 6 p.m. “This program will focus on the presence of Muslims in the United States from Colonial days to present times. American Muslims’ stories draw attention to ways people of varying religious, cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds interact to shape our communities and our collective past,” stated Anne Simpson, librarian at BRTC.
“During the 18th and 19th centuries, tens of thousands of Muslims were captured in Africa and brought to America to be sold as slaves,” Simpson explains. “Through their religion, these Muslims fought both to survive slavery and to make sense of their circumstances.”
The presentation will include a film, Prince Among Slaves, which is a historical documentary based on Terry Alford’s biography of Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima who was a prince of a West African Muslim nation. Ibrahima was brought to Mississippi in 1788 and sold as a slave. He was from an African kingdom larger and more developed than the newly formed United States where he received his education and studied farming and agriculture.
In 1807, Ibrahima was recognized by an Irish ship’s surgeon as the son of an African king who had saved his life many years earlier. Prince, as he had become known to local Natchez, Mississippi, residents, endured the humiliation of slavery without ever losing his dignity or his hope for freedom. Against the backdrop of American slavery, Ibrahima hoped to free his wife and children and return to his African country. He was finally freed by President John Quincy Adams in 1828 after 40 years in captivity.
The Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys is a project of the National Endowment for the Humanities conducted in cooperation with the American Library Association, the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University, the Oxford University Press, Twin Cities Public Television, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
“The collection of materials was chosen to familiarize the public with Islam and the cultural heritage of Islamic civilizations around the world,” Simpson explained. “These materials are intended to address the need of the American public for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic peoples. The programs are presented with the idea of bringing cultures together and promoting intercultural understandings.”
The event is free and open to the public. For more information on the collection, contact Simpson at the BRTC library, 870-248-4061, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The books and films in the collection are available to students, faculty, staff, and community members.