Elise Bellin, MLIS is the IRC Librarian and this book review is part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.

Prince Among Slaves

PBS Home Video © 2008 – ISBN: 0793694183

Slavery is a hot-button topic, even today. It is an open wound affecting all sides so that none are left unscathed. Suffering greatly of course, are the African Americans who took the brunt of this tragedy.

With strategic actions taken to break them of all their connections to any life previous at every opportunity – family ties, religious affiliations, education, independence, and pride in themselves – the end result was catastrophic to their sense of self and community and would affect them for generations to come as these lessons were unintentionally passed down.

It is important to look at these issues that, though passed, are still affecting our citizens today. Part of understanding these issues is looking at the stories of the people who were initially affected by the issue and trying to find ways to mitigate the generational affect such actions have/had on their families.

Prince Among Slaves, is a film based on a book by the same name, it details the remarkable true story of an African prince, 26-year-old Abdul Rahman, who is torn from his home and brought to America as a slave where he endures forty years of slavery without losing his dignity or the hope of one day regaining his freedom.

In this time, he marries, has nine children (and many grandchildren), and eventually finds freedom for his wife and himself, though forced to leave his children and grandchildren behind.

The film is narrated by rapper Mos Def. It is a costumed docudrama in which the life of this remarkable Muslim prince is unveiled, right down to his eventual, if imperfect, triumph.

As with many PBS films, this film is balanced to allow for a wide audience and give as unbiased, yet light, account of the many horrors, trials, and tribulations these individuals faced as possible. It is a title we return to year after year for school visits, and is sure to be an enlightening experience for years to come.

Founded in 2011, the Islamic Resource Library (IRC) is the first Islamic library in Wisconsin. The IRC aims to provide resources to educators, students, health professionals, interfaith groups, and any members of the Milwaukee community that want an accurate understanding of the Islamic faith, its practices, and its people.