By Wanda Clay
As we go into the month of February, many events will be held in an effort to celebrate what is known as ‘Black History Month.’ On Saturday, February 9, the third annual Africana Muslim conference will be held from 9 am-6 pm at the Muslim American Cultural Center, 1513 Jefferson Street in Nashville.
From 1926 until the current date, contributions made by African American Muslims are rarely discussed in celebration of Black History Month. Therefore, the sponsors of this event, the African Muslim Association of Nashville (AMAN) and Muslim American Cultural Association (MACA) have come together as a Pan African framework to create a study of Africana to “reclaim that which is lost,” as a part of the celebration of ‘African American History Month 2019.’
As the theme denotes, ‘Muslim Youth are Our Future in the World Community,’ and equipping our youth with the education of Black heritage is the focal point of this conference. However, adults can also benefit from learning. Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week in 1926, and African Americans then began to celebrate a whole month with Black History Month.
“When African American Month began, people talked about Muhammad Ali,” said Amari Al Hadid, founder of The Great Debate series and coordinator of the conference. “But that was Ali not Islam. They talked about Malcolm, but that’s Malcolm, a Black nationalist. This conference is about the Africans that were captured in tribal wars, were put in ships and brought here as prisoners of war. At least 25% of the African Americans brought here were Muslims. So when do we talk about that 25%? Approximately 10% of contemporary African Americans practice Islam. We know about Kunta Kinte, but we want to bring attention to Prince Abdul Rahman Ibn Ibrahima from West Africa.”
Al Hadid and the conference developers are excited about the youth participation during the second half of the conference. Young people from elementary, middle and high schools will participate in a competition where they will recite chapters of the Quaran. About 20 students of the Bantu Community Center Weekend School will participate. They have committed the Quaran to memory, some more than half and some the entire 114 chapters. The students will also participate in a Quiz Bowl that will help in learning and understanding Muslims of African decent in the Western and Eastern hemispheres as well as on the African Continent. These students are from East Africa, Bantu, and Samoles.
While some are from refugee camps, we want our brothers and sisters from the ‘mother land’ to know us, and we want to know them because they are what we used to be. Kunta Kente was brought here as a Mandigo warrior, and he was stripped of who he was by changing his name, beaten and tortured. Why? The European kidnappers actually understood the power of Islam.”
This third year conference will consist of a ‘Great Debate,’ as well as including: Nobel Drew Ali; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz; ‘Prince Among Slaves,’ a tribute to Prince Abdul Rahman Ibn Ibrahima Sori (1762-1829) from Futa Jallon, Guinea, West Africa; Quarani Recitation Contest among students enrolled in Bantu Community Center Weekend School; Africana Muslim Quiz Bowl by Middle and High school students, Bantu Community Center Weekend School and an African Marketplace.
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This article originally appeared in the Nashville Pride.