Prince Among Slaves

Prince Among Slaves

Sun, 02/07/2010 - 3:00am

Pictured: Prince after escaping from the plantation.

Credit: Wanakhavi Wakhisi

This special tells the forgotten true story of an African prince who was enslaved in Mississippi for 40 years before finally achieving freedom and becoming one of the most famous men in America.

Winner of the Best Documentary at the 2007 American Black Film Festival, PRINCE AMONG SLAVES tells the compelling story of Abdul Rahman, an African Muslim prince, through feature-film styled re-enactments directed by Andrea Kalin and Emmy® Award-winner Bill Duke; contemporary artworks, archival letters and diaries; and on-camera interviews with distinguished scholars and experts. Narrated by actor and hip-hop artist Mos Def, PRINCE AMONG SLAVES is based on Dr. Terry Alford’s biography of the same name. PRINCE AMONG SLAVES re-airs Sunday, February 7 at 3 a.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

Abdul Rahman was captured in 1788 and sold into slavery in the American South. He endured the horrific Middle Passage and ended up the “property” of a poor and nearly illiterate planter from Natchez, Mississippi, named Thomas Foster. Rahman remained enslaved for 40 years before finally regaining his freedom under dramatic circumstances, becoming one of the most famous men of his day. He returned to Africa, his royal status acknowledged. PRINCE AMONG SLAVES ends with a family reunion of Rahman’s African and American descendents in Natchez, Mississippi.   

“Abdul Rahman survived the harsh ordeals of slavery through his love of family and his deep abiding faith,” says co-executive producer Michael Wolfe.” The film depicts a universal story of perseverance and hope. Abdul endured unimaginable indignities and faced immeasurable odds, yet managed to survive his long fall from royalty with character and integrity intact.”

“I was immediately attracted to this story because of its powerful message,” re-enactment director and supervisory producer Bill Duke says. “Too many people continue to be enslaved by poverty, drugs and bad decisions. But like Abdul Rahman, they can come out of it and regain their dignity and respect.”

The film contains insight from a distinguished and diverse group of experts such as Terry Alford, whose historical biography inspired the film; best-selling journalist and popular historian Adam Hochschild; K. Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy at Princeton University; the late novelist Bebe Moore Campbell; Sylviane A. Diouf, renowned scholar and author; Michael Gomez, professor of history at NYU; historian David S. Dreyer; Artemus Gaye, a descendant of Abdul Rahman; and Hamza Yusuf Hanson and Zaid Shakir, Islamic scholars at the Zaytuna Institute.

Throughout the year, PBS invites viewers to explore the vast contributions of African Americans. In honor and celebration of Black History Month, February 2010, PBS presents new and encore programs, beginning in January and continuing through February.

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