Prince Among Slaves
Directed by Andrea Kalin and Bill Duke, 2008
Introduced by Dr. Michael Lourdon, professor of English
In 1788, the slave ship Africa set sail from West Africa, headed for the West Indies filled with a profitable but highly perishable cargo — hundreds of men, women and children bound in chains. Six months later one of its human cargo, a 26-year-old man named Abdul Rahman, was transported and sold in Natchez, Miss. According to legends that developed around Abdul Rahman in antebellum America, he made the remarkable claim to the farmer who purchased him at the auction that he was an “African prince” and that his father would pay gold for his return. The offer was refused and Abdul Rahman did not return to Africa for another 40 years. During his enslavement he toiled on the Foster plantation, married and fathered nine children. His story also made him one of the most famous Africans in America for a time, attracting the attention of powerful men such as Secretary of State Henry Clay. After 40 years of slavery, Abdul Rahman finally reclaimed his freedom, but he defied his former master’s demand that the federal government return him immediately to Africa and instead traveled throughout the northern states, speaking to large audiences in a partially successful attempt to raise enough money to buy his children’s freedom. Finally, at the age of 67 and after raising funds to free two of his children, Abdul Rahman returned to Africa, only to fall ill and die just as word of his arrival reached his former home of Futa Jallon in present-day Guinea.
Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World
Directed by Robert H. Gardner
Introduced by Dr. Janet Marquardt, distinguished professor emerita of EIU
This 90-minute film takes audiences on an epic journey across nine countries and more than 1,400 years of history. It explores the richness of Islamic art in objects big and small, from great ornamented palaces and the play of light in monumental mosques to the exquisite beauty of ceramics, carved boxes, paintings and metal work. It revels in the use of color and finds commonalities in a shared artistic heritage with the West and East. The film also examines the unique ways in which Islamic art turns calligraphy and the written word into masterpieces and develops water into an expressive, useful art form. Like all art, Islamic art carries with it the fundamental values and perspectives of the artists who created it as well as those who commissioned and paid for it. It incorporates the basic themes of transcendent beauty common to all creative endeavors. The film reveals the variety and diversity of Islamic art, offering a window into Islamic culture and a variety of perspectives on enduring themes that have propelled human history and fueled the rise of world civilization over the centuries.