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Prince Among Slaves

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Prince Among Slaves

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Prince Among Slaves is a historical documentary directed, written and produced by Andrea Kalin and narrated by Mos Def made for PBS by Unity Productions Foundation. The film, made in association with Spark Media and Duke Media, retells the story of Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, a prince from West Africa who was made a slave in the United States and freed 40 years later.

Based on a biography by Northern Virginia Community College history professor Terry Alford, Prince Among Slaves chronicles Abdul-Rahman’s true life African-Muslim-prince-turned-American-slave drama cycle with historic and scholastic commentary along the way.

The story begins with prince's capture at age 26 during a military campaign against non-Muslims in Guinea in 1788, and follows his sale to British slave traders, transport to America on the slave ship Africa to New Orleans, arrival into bondage at Thomas Foster’s tobacco plantation in Natchez, Mississippi, the ensuing 40 years of enslavement and his eventual liberation.

The unlikely story of his liberation began with a chance meeting with Dr. John Cox, who Abdul-Rahman’s father helped in Africa. Cox offered to buy Abdul-Rahman from Foster, but he refused. Two decades later Cox’s son William enlisted the help of local newspaper editor Andrew Marschalk to Abdul-Rahman’s cause. Articles written by Marschalk caught the attention of then Secretary of State Henry Clay, who convinced President John Quincy Adams to free Abdul-Rahman. The liberated prince immediately purchased the freedom of his wife Isabella for 0, and remained in America for a year campaigning to free his nine children still enslaved on Foster’s cotton plantation. He toured the northern cities, petitioning abolitionist groups and politicians for the money necessary to buy his family’s freedom. He succeeded in raising only enough money for two of his children and their families who joined Isabella in Liberia. The prince returned to Africa, but died before reaching his kingdom in Futa Jallon. The film ends with Prince's living descendants from both sides of the Atlantic reunited for the first time at the fateful plantation in Natchez, with family members reacting to the discovery of their shared royal and slave heritage after nearly 200 years of disconnection.

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