“….Muslims arrived here before the founding of the United States — not just a few, but thousands.
“They have been largely overlooked because they were not free to practice their faith [and] to leave records of their beliefs. They left just enough to confirm that Islam in America is not an immigrant religion lately making itself known, but a tradition with deep roots here, despite being among the most suppressed in the nation’s history….
“Among the enslaved Muslims in North Carolina was a religious teacher named Omar ibn Said. Recaptured in 1810 after running away from a cruel master he called a kafir (an infidel), he became known for inscribing the walls of his jail cell with Arabic script. He wrote an account of his life in 1831, describing how in freedom he had loved to read the Quran, but in slavery his owners had converted him to Christianity….”
–– From “The Muslims of Early America” by Peter Manseau in the New York Times (Feb. 9)
Did Said actually give up Islam for Presbyterianism? Evidence of his true religious preferences seems contradictory.
— What was his great-great-great grandfather thinking?
— A play about Harriet Jacobs, a film about Carl Sandburg.
— Death noted: Clyde King, whose long baseball career began with an overnight transformation from Tar Heel to Brooklyn Dodger.
— Roadside marker in Fayetteville is state’s first to recognize a Muslim.
— Lost Colony researcher‘s “two drops of Croatoan blood… have boiled over.”
Thanks to Michael Hill for this list of state highway historical markers approved by the advisory committee May 25:
— Pea Island Lifesavers. Only U.S. Lifesaving Station manned by black crew. Led by Richard Etheridge, 1879-1899.
— George H. White, 1852-1918. Represented the state’s “Black Second” district, U.S. House, 1897-1901. Last black Southerner in Congress for 72 years. Lived two blocks east. [Tarboro]
— Anna J. Cooper, 1858-1964. Educator, orator & early black feminist. Graduate, St. Augustine’s. Author, A Voice from the South (1892). Grave 2 1/2 blks. S. [Raleigh]
— Fairgrounds Speedway. After 1928 popularized Indy-style car racing. Site hosted the last NASCAR race on dirt track, 1970. Half-mile oval was 250 yds. SW. [Raleigh]
— Lewis Leary, 1835-1859. Free black abolitionist & conspirator in 1859 with John Brown in attack on U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Killed in assault. Lived in this vicinity. [Fayetteville]
— Omar Ibn Said, ca. 1770-1863. Muslim slave & scholar. African-born, he penned autobiography in Arabic in 1831. While living in Bladen Co., worshipped with local Presbyterians. [Fayetteville]
— Nimrod Jarrett Smith, 1837-1893. Principal Chief, Eastern Band of Cherokee, 1880-1891. Led incorporation of Band & centralization of Tribal government on his property, here. [Cherokee]
Expected by week’s end: Details on each marker.