SOMERVILLE – The Somerville Public Library is pleased to announce that the latest book discussion in its “Muslim Journeys” will take place on Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m. with a discussion of Terry Alford’s book, Prince Among Slaves at the Central Branch, 79 Highland Avenue. The series is free and open to the public.
The program is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association, and aims to familiarize the American public with Islam and the cultural heritage of Islamic civilizations around the world. The July 17 discussion will be led by Boston University Professor Linda Heywood, a noted scholar of African-American history, particularly slavery in the New World, and has appeared on the PBS series African American Lives.
About Prince Among Slaves:
Abdul Rahman was 26 when he was abducted in the present-day Republic of Guinea and sent on a slave ship to the Americas. Like many enslaved Africans, he ended up in Natchez, Mississippi, the heart of “the Cotton Kingdom.” After years of enslavement under the name “Prince,” during which he became the overseer of his master’s plantation, something utterly unexpected happened: a white man stopped him on the streets of Natchez, shouted his African name, and embraced him. John Cox, an Irish doctor whose life Abdul Rahman had saved years ago in Africa, happened to be in Natchez and recognized him. Cox immediately began a years-long campaign to win Rahman’s freedom that gained national attention. In the course of this campaign journalists and intellectuals visited and questioned Rahman, and what they learned upended white American assumptions about Africans: a literate prince, well-versed in Arabic literature, who was also a paragon of honesty and self-discipline, conflicted with the white prejudices that justified slavery.
For more information about the event or the Muslim Journeys series, see http://www.somervillepubliclibrary.org/