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African American Passages Episode 2: The Long Journey of Omar Ibn Said

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In the second episode of African American Passages: Black Lives in the 19th Century, John W. Kluge Center Distinguished Visiting Scholar and Georgetown University history professor Adam Rothman looks at the story of Omar Ibn Said. Rothman is joined on the podcast by Mary-Jane Deeb, the Chief of the Library of Congress’s African and Middle Eastern Division, and historian Sylviane Diouf.

Ibn Said was a Fula scholar from the West African kingdom of Futa Toro, captured around 1807 and sold into slavery in the United States. He left behind a remarkable autobiography, the only known autobiography of an enslaved person in the U.S. written in Arabic. Rothman wrote about his experience transcribing documents in the Omar Ibn Said Collection at the Library of Congress. He also previously wrote for us about a letter from an enslaved man to his owner, former President James K. Polk.

After listening to the podcast, consider joining Rothman and the Kluge Center for an event on February 21 at 4:00 pm. Rothman will be talking with Jesse J. Holland, award-winning journalist, novelist, and author of “Black Men Built the Capitol: Discovering African-American History in and Around Washington” (2007).


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