Omar could read, Omar could write, Omar was a slave

Omar could read, Omar could write, Omar was a slave

A new exhibit featuring a one-of-a-kind slave autobiography is on display in the Special Collections Library from October 17, 2014 through April 30, 2015. Update: EXTENDED THROUGH May 15th.

“My Name is Omar: A Life in the Struggle for Liberation” includes the only known autobiography of an American slave written in the Arabic language. Long thought lost, the document surfaced at auction in the 1990s and was purchased by a private collector, who has allowed it to be on exhibit at Clemson University.  This is the first time the document has been available to the public in South Carolina.

The author of the manuscript was Omar ibn Said, an educated Muslim scholar and teacher who was captured in Africa in 1807 and forced on a slave ship to Charleston. He escaped a brutal master in South Carolina, was recaptured in Fayetteville, N.C., and spent the remaining years of his life under the ownership of the prominent Owen family.

Omar’s manuscript,  “The Life of Omar ibn Said, Written by Himself” (1831), is a deeply religious and personal text, quoting both the Christian Bible and the Islamic Qur’an, and asking fundamental questions about what it means to be truly free.

The exhibit is sponsored by Clemson University Libraries and the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

Find more information about Omar ibn Said and the exhibit  here.