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Introduction

Prince Among Slaves introduces the viewer to three large thematic areas often omitted from popular portrayals of the slavery experience in Hollywood film and in history textbooks. One of these themes is Identity. "The narratives of African Muslims enslaved in America are playing a critical role in Muslim community building in the United States," notes Dr. Hishaam Aidi (Columbia University), "as young Muslims realize that Islam's roots in the New World harken back to the 17th century."

Prince Among Slaves raises our awareness of the rich and diverse economic and social contributions of enslaved people to the formation of America. Popular American culture has usually portrayed the societies of the enslaved people as primitive and unsophisticated, yet they came from advanced West African societies, many of which rivaled their European counterparts in literacy, economic development, and cultural output. Despite this popular understanding of the slavery experience as primitive and unsophisticated, many young people, particularly Muslim Americans, have looked to antebellum slave narratives as a source of identity and community building. Slave narratives, and how we tell them, tell us a lot about who we are as Americans.

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Abdul Rahman

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PHOTOS