In this episode of On The Square, Sapelo Square History Editor Zaheer Ali speaks with Tulani Salahu-Din, museum specialist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), about Muslim artifacts at the museum. Salahu-Din provides the backstory for some of the objects at the museum, including those featured as part of Sapelo Square’s Black History Month 2021 special: an egg carton from the Nation of Islam’s Muslim Farms, a tape recorder used by Malcolm X at Mosque No. 7, and a pendant the Honorable Elijah Muhammad gave to his wife Sister Clara Muhammad as described by their grand-daughter Amirah Muhammad in an oral history. They also talk about the importance of preserving Muslim material culture, and steps everyone can take in collecting and recording their family histories.
To the question, “If Black Islam had a theme song, what would it be?,” Salahu-Din chose Quincy Jones’s “What Good Is a Song?”
To learn more about some of the Muslim artifacts featured at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), visit Sapelo Square’s Black History Month 2021 feature, or search the online collections at NMAAHC. To find out more information about the museum’s artifacts and public programming around themes of religion and spirituality, visit the Center for Study of African American Religious Life.
Deborah Tulani Salahu-Din is the museum specialist in language and literature at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. In addition to collecting literary objects, she has acquired objects reflecting the religious diversity of African American communities. Some of these objects are on display in “Foundations of Faith” in the Museum’s Making A Way Out Of No Way Gallery, which explores religion as a strategy of survival and progress.
This episode includes an excerpt from Amirah Muhammad Oral History Interview, July 20, 2016, Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
On The Square’s theme music was created by Fanatik OnBeats.
Artwork for On The Square was created by Scheme of Things Graphics.