We take the name “Sapelo” from one of the first communities of African Muslims in the United States founded in the early 1800s. On Sapelo Island, off the coast of Georgia, enslaved African Muslims struggled to hold onto their Islamic roots amidst the dehumanizing institution of slavery. Our use of the term “square” is in reference to the broad notion of a town square as a communal place of gathering and a cultural hub for African-descended people.
African-descended Muslims are situated at the intersection of three major geographies: the African diaspora, the United States, and the Transnational Muslim community. They are therefore positioned to make critical and unique contributions to a number of important conversations on the status of Black America, the state of US society, politics and culture, and Islam in the 21st century. Yet, because their unique intersectionality challenges the traditionally imagined boundaries of these geographies, Black Muslims have often found themselves excluded, or rendered invisible by much of the mainstream discourse around these issues.
Enter Sapelo Square.
In the spirit of “do for self,” Sapelo Square hopes to intervene in the marginalization and erasure of Black Muslims in the public square by building an online forum that places Black Muslims at the center. Our mission is to celebrate and analyze the experiences of Black Muslims in the United States to create new understandings of who they are, what they have done, and why that matters.
Sapelo Square is committed to a nonsectarian approach to Islam and an inclusive vision of what it means to be Black in the United States. Sapelo Square seeks to provide informed and thought provoking content that leads to innovative and transformative action. Sapelo Square is a gathering space that builds on the long tradition of Islam in Black America and reflects the vitality of Black Muslim Life. Sapelo Square aims to be the destination for all things Black and Muslim in the United States.