America’s First Muslims Were Slaves

Dora Mekouar | VOA

In 1807, a wealthy 37-year-old scholar was captured in West Africa, in what is now Senegal, and transported to the United States to be sold into slavery.

That man, Omar Ibn Said, lived the remainder of his life enslaved in the American South, and his story might have been forgotten if not for the handwritten autobiography he left behind.

Written in Arabic and recently acquired by the Library of Congress, “The Life of Omar Ibn Said” is not only a rare handwritten personal story of an American slave, but it’s also one of the first intimate accounts of the early history of Muslims in the United States.

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