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Muslims in America the Focus of Book Discussion Series

The Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma book discussion series at Oklahoma City University will return in January with the theme title Muslim Journeys: American Stories. The opening discussion will begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 14 in Walker Center room 151 with “Prince Among Slaves” by Terry Alford.

The discussion series is made possible through a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment of the Humanities as part of its We the People initiative promoting scholarship, teaching and learning about American history and culture.

Harbour Winn, director of the Center for Interpersonal Learning through Film and Literature at OCU, said that while the large presence of Muslims in the United States dates to the 1960s, Muslims have been a part of the history of America since colonial times as well as the slave trade that eventually led to the American Civil War.

“Muslims' stories draw attention to ways in which people of varying religious, cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds interact to shape both their communities’ identities and our nation’s collective past,” Winn said. “The actual history of Muslims in America tells the story of people who are both Muslim and American, even if tension exists and challenges us as we strive to realize our founding ideals of equality and pluralism.”

The first book, “Prince Among Slaves,” is a biography about Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima, one of tens of thousands of West African Muslims who lived in slavery in antebellum America. Ibrahima became known as “the prince” to residents of Natchez, Miss. Although a slave, he was an educated, aristocratic man made overseer of the large plantation of his master, who refused to sell him.

At each session in the five-part series, a humanities scholar makes a presentation on the book in the context of the theme. Small group discussions follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, all participants come together for a brief wrap-up.

Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to preregister and borrow the reading selections and theme brochure by calling Winn at (405) 208-5472, e-mailing him at hwinn@okcu.edu or dropping by the Dulaney-Browne Library room 211 or 207.

Other dates, themes and books included in the series are:

* Jan. 28, “The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States” edited by Edward E. Curtis

* Feb. 11, “Acts of Faith” by Eboo Patel

* Feb. 25, “Quiet Revolution” by Leila Ahmed

* March 11, “The Butterfly Mosque” by G. Willow Wilson

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