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America's First Prince

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In 1788 the slave ship Africa made its voyage across the Atlantic carrying scores of people chained up to be sold on the shores of the newly minted United States. Among those held captive was Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori, a 26-year-old man who claimed to be prince of a great nation. The plantation owner who bought Abdul Rahman didn't believe him, and used him as a slave for the next 40 years — but Abdul Rahman refused to accept a life of bondage as his fate. Tri-lingual, keenly intelligent and highly persuasive, he eventually convinced several influential Americans — President John Quincy Adams among them — that he was who he said he was, and his owner freed him but not his nine children. Abdul Rahman then engaged on a speaking tour of the northern states, telling his story in a desperate attempt to earn enough money to buy back his own children. Prince Among Slaves, a documentary about Abdul Rahman's amazing and almost-forgotten life, screens at 7 p.m. this evening at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org). Admission is free.
Thu., June 24, 2010

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