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Flatbush + Main Episode 32: Muslims in Brooklyn

By Julie Golia

Posted on February 15, 2019

In Episode 32 of Brooklyn Historical Society’s podcast Flatbush + Main, co-hosts Zaheer Ali and Julie Golia examine the history of Muslims in Brooklyn, drawing on BHS’s groundbreaking public and oral history project that launched in 2017.


02:04 Histories and Ideas
16:34 Into the Archives
27:35 Voices of Brooklyn

For complete show notes, go to

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Segment 1: Histories and Ideas

In this segment, Julie and Zaheer talk about the Muslims in Brooklyn project, and the project’s goals to convey the long, diverse, and dynamic histories of Muslims in Brooklyn and New York City. For well over a century, Muslims have lived, worked, and prayed in Brooklyn, making it a major center of Muslim life not just in New York City, but the nation. They provide an overview of the histories of Muslims in New York City, and some of the themes that have informed those histories, including physical and spiritual migrations, community formations, neighborhood change, civic engagement, and the arts. They also reflect on the import of the project at a time when anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise.

Segment 2: Into the Archives

Julie and Zaheer analyze a marketing brochure for the Al-Karim school, an Afrocentric school that opened in Crown Heights in the early 1970s, and tease out the cultural influences of Islam on this school and other aspects of Brooklyn culture.

The document is from the Eastern Parkway Coalition records (2007.016); you can explore the finding aid here.

As Zaheer mentions in the segment, you can learn more by listening to the oral histories of one of the founders of the Al-Karim school, Ora Clark, and her son Karim Camara, who attended the school.

Segment 3: Voices of Brooklyn

In this segment, Julie and Zaheer listen to clips from the oral history of Brooklyn artists Mohammed Fayaz and Alsarah Abunama-Elgadi. You can hear their full interviews, as well as others that are part of the Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories collection on our Oral History portal.

Segment 4: Endorsements

Zaheer endorsed “Beauty, Media, Money and More: A Conversation with Tressie McMillan Cottom,” a public program on Monday, February 25, 2010 at 6:30pm. In her new book Thick and Other Essays, Cottom — award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed — opens up about her role as a scholar and public figure. She is joined in conversation by Harlem-based writer, Morgan Jerkins, author of the New York Times bestseller This Will Be My Undoing. Tickets are $10 and $5 for members; reserve them here.

Julie endorsed a book talk given by Kellie Carter Jackson about her new book, Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence, on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 6:30pm. Jackson, assistant professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College (and former Columbia colleague of Julie and Zaheer!), examines the political and social tensions preceding the American Civil War and the conditions that led some black abolitionists to believe that slavery might only be abolished by violence. Tickets are $5 and free for members; reserve them here.

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