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Only Known Surviving Muslim American Slave Autobiography Goes Online
 
January 31 – February 13, 2019
 
Omar ibn Said



The Library of Congress has acquired and made available online the Omar Ibn Said Collection, Translation of the life of Omar ibn Said, which includes the only known surviving enslaved person's narrative written in Arabic in the United States. In celebration of African American History Month, on Feb. 5, 2019, the Library will host a special public program and discussion focusing on this unique historical collection.

In 1831, Omar Ibn Said, a wealthy and highly educated man who was captured in Senegambia (Senegal and Gambia combined) and brought to the United States as an enslaved person, wrote a 15-page autobiography describing his experiences. This manuscript is important not only because it tells the personal story of an enslaved person written by himself, but also because it documents an aspect of the early history of Islam and Muslims in the United States.

The Omar Ibn Said half-day event features scholars whose work focuses on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said and related diaries of enslaved people. The narrative is a historically unique and important primary source for those trying to understand the connections between the Muslim communities in Western Africa and the enslaved who continued to practice Islamic faith after being captured during the Atlantic slave trade.
 
 
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