Sidedoor: ep. 17 | enslaved and muslim in early america

Today, the U.S. population is about 1% Muslim, but in the late 1700s that number was likely closer to 5%. Who were these early Muslim Americans, where did they go, and why didn’t we all learn about them in school? In this episode, we search for American history's missing Muslims, and explore their experience through the words of Omar ibn Said, an enslaved Muslim man in North Carolina whose one-of-a-kind autobiography still resonates today.

Omar ibn Said’s photo is hung in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s new exhibition, Religion in Early America. It’s on view until June 3, 2018, in Washington, D.C. If you’d like to dig even deeper, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture also has information on the Muslim community during America’s formative years. And last, but certainly not least, the National Humanities Center has a digital translation of Said’s autobiography available to read.

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