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date: 25 September 2020


  • Daina Ramey Berry
  •  and Lezlee Suzanne Ware


Although it is difficult to uncover the early history of black women and Islam in the United States, some scholars have identified African-born Muslim women like “Fatima” and “Samba” as the mothers of the first generation of African American Muslims. Fatima and Samba appeared in East Florida plantation records and local newspapers in 1813, and it is plausible that Samba gave birth to at least one daughter, Saluma, while residing on an Amelia Island plantation. Despite such documented references, much of the early evidence of Muslims in North America cannot be confirmed. Looking at plantation lists, one finds Muslim names and evidence of African-born slaves, but it is difficult to trace the history of these individuals without first understanding the emergence of Islam in Africa.

Islam was introduced into North Africa in the early 1400s by traders traveling along the Mediterranean Sea Africans in this region were attracted to ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Black Women in America, 2nd ed.

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