Omar Ibn Said (Sayyid), mid-19th cent.


Photographic copy and permission to place on this website, courtesy Davidson College Archives, North Carolina.


A daguerreotype photo held by Davidson College. A Moslem from the Futa Tora area of present-day Senegal, Omar Said was captured in warfare and shipped to Charleston, S.C. in 1806/07, just before the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He spent about 24 years enslaved in South and North Carolina. He originally wrote his account in Arabic in 1831 (one of a handful of known accounts written by the African-born who were enslaved in British America/the U.S.) at around the age of 61; an English translation first appeared after his death in 1864. For various translations of Said's account and many details on his life in the context of Islam in America, see Ala Alryyes, ed, A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar Ibn Said (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011; cf. Jerome S. Handler, Survivors of the Middle Passage: Life Histories of Enslaved Africans in British America, Slavery & Abolition, vol. 23 (2002), pp. 25-56.

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