Michigan Notable Book Author and U-M Professor Sally Howell Discusses Her Book “Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past”

Monday October 5, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event will be recorded

Join us to hear Michigan Notable Books author Sally Howell speak about the history of Islam in Detroit, a city that is home to several of the nation’s oldest, most diverse Muslim communities.

In the early 1900s, there were thousands of Muslims in Detroit. Most came from Eastern Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and British India. In 1921, they built the nation’s first mosque in Highland Park. By the 1930s, new Islam-oriented social movements were taking root among African Americans in Detroit. By the 1950s, Albanians, Arabs, African Americans, and South Asians all had mosques and religious associations in the city, and they were confident that Islam could be, and had already become, an American religion. When immigration laws were liberalized in 1965, new immigrants and new African American converts rapidly became the majority of U.S. Muslims. For them, Detroit’s old Muslims and their mosques seemed oddly Americanized, even unorthodox.

Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past explores the rise of Detroit’s earliest Muslim communities. It documents the culture wars and doctrinal debates that ensued as these populations confronted Muslim newcomers who did not understand their manner of worship or the American identities they had created. Looking closely at this historical encounter, it provides a new interpretation of the possibilities and limits of Muslim incorporation in American life and shows how Islam has become American in the past and how the anxieties many new Muslim Americans and non-Muslims feel about the place of Islam in American society today are not inevitable, but are part of a dynamic process of political and religious change that is still unfolding.

Sally Howell is Assistant Professor of History and Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

This event includes a booksigning and books will be for sale.

Fairy Tales and Journeys Across the Sea

Set in 19th century Norway, West of the Moon tells the story of 13 year old Astri, who has just been sold to a cruel goat farmer by her greedy aunt. Clever and determined, Astri makes a daring escape to reunite with her sister and find a way to America. Remembering the heroes in fairy tales told by her mother gives Astri the strength to persevere in her journey and uncover family secrets.

Margi Preus was inspired to write the novel after reading a mysterious diary passage written by her great-great grandmother, Linka Preus, who immigrated to America in the 19th century. Fascinating images and information about Linka’s world are included in the Author’s Note.

For other retellings of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, try East or Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. If you’d like to read the Norwegian fairy tales mentioned in the Preus novel, check out East of the Sun and West of the Moon: old tales from the North.

Naturalization: A Step To Citizenship With Attorney Ruby Robinson

Wednesday February 12, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Malletts Creek Branch: Program Room

Are you, or is someone in your family, one of the 140,000-plus lawful permanent residents living in Michigan who are eligible to naturalize today? Did you want to begin the steps to become a citizen? What are your waiting for?

Ruby Robinson, a staff attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), will be providing an informational session on the benefits of and requirements for naturalization, along with the process. There is no better time than right now to learn about or apply for naturalization and begin the steps to become a citizen. Following the presentation, Mr. Robinson will be available to answer your questions!

Ruby Robinson is an attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), a resource center for advocates seeking equal justice for Michigan's immigrants. MIRC works to build a thriving Michigan where immigrant communities are fully integrated and respected.

Happy Polish American Heritage Month!


Celebrate Polish American Heritage Month (ongoing throughout October) at the AADL! This annual event was first started in 1981 and celebrates Polish history, culture and pride, as well as the many achievements of Polish Americans. Whether or not you have Polish heritage, participating in Polish American Heritage Month is fun and easy. Listen to traditional Polish fiddle music by the Karol Stoch Band and try your hand at some Polish recipes. Kids may enjoy hearing ancient Polish fables and folktales read aloud to them, too.

The library also has many books written in Polish in our World section, as well as books and CDs to help you learn and master the Polish language, whether you are an interested beginner or an out-of-practice native speaker. Try Colloquial Polish: the complete course for beginners, or Mastering Polish with 2 audio CDs, which also comes with a Polish-English dictionary.

For information about Polish history in Michigan, read about the first Polish people to settle in Detroit in Detroit’s Polenia, by Cecile Wendt Jensen. You can also learn about the contributions Polish people have made to Michigan culture and about the attraction that many Polish people feel to our state in Poles in Michigan, by Dennis Badaczewski.

Happy Polish American Heritage Month, and Miłego dnia!

Thinking of Becoming a U.S. Citizen?

If you are, classes will start soon at Jewish Family Services. This robust curriculum includes class instruction on Preparing for the Citizenship Test, Civics-based English Language Instruction and U.S. Government & History Lessons. Registration begins April 16th. For more information contact Nicole Graham-Lusher, Citizenship Program Coordinator: 734-769-0209 or nicole@jfsannarbor.org.

Operation Pedro Pan

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the airlift that eventually brought 14,000 unaccompanied children from Cuba to this country. While Miami celebrates with a Conference and Fiesta, you can read the fictional story, based on the author's own experiences, of 3 brothers who were evacuated from Cuba in 1961. History comes alive through dazzling use of visual imagery and humor, which ranges from light to dark. For younger readers, Kiki: a Cuban Boy's Adventures in America, tells the story of an 8 year old "Pedro Pan" who encounters his first American puzzle, the automatic door; meets new animals, such as the raccoon; and is frightened by a ghost on what he later learns is Halloween.

Here's a link to the Official National Charitable organization founded in 1991 by the former unaccompanied Cuban children. It was created to fulfill the Pledge of Thanksgiving given in 1990, "in which we honor the sacrifice of our parents and this noble nation that welcomed us, and the person that made it all possible, Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh. We felt it was our duty to pay back the kindness by helping today's needy children...."

So I Come to America: Detroit Pre-World War I Immigrants

So I Come to America: Detroit Pre-World War I ImmigrntsSo I Come to America: Detroit Pre-World War I Immigrnts

The exhibit So I Come to America tells the story of pre-World War I immigrants through documentary photographs and text panels. Between 1980 and 1983, Robert Gordon interviewed and photographed 50 Detroit area immigrants who came to the US prior to the outbreak of WWI in 1914. Join us Wednesday, September 22 from 7:00-8:30 PM at the Downtown Library where Dr. Gordon will discuss the compelling stories behind the immigrant subjects used in his exhibit. His work will be exhibited in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Downtown Library through October 14.

U.S. Citizenship: An Overview

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Are you interested in becoming a U.S. Citizen or want to learn about the process? Join us this Thursday, February 18 at 7:00 pm at our Traverwood Branch to hear Tracy Schauff, Esq. from the International Center at the University of Michigan. She will highlight the steps it takes to become a U.S. citizen, as well as what the International Center at U of M does.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #167

In Repeat After Me*, (Ann Arbor native) Rachel DeWoskin, author of the laugh-out-loud funny and poignant Foreign Babes in Beijing: behind the scenes of a new China impresses readers and critics alike with her debut novel of modern China and one American girl's struggle to find herself there.

This complex love story of cultural intersection begins with Aysha Silvermintz and recent immigrant Chen Da Ge, a sporadic and moody student assigned to her ESL class. Under the pretense of helping him gain citizenship, they marry.

The story picks up 13 years later with Aysha living in Beijing with her daughter, immersing them both in the daily life of their adopted home, and struggling to make sense of the mystery that was Chen. "A tender story of manic love and loss, this is a heartbreaking and uplifting novel with memorably off-kilter leads".

"DeWoskin demonstrates a smart, sophisticated literary agility", .... (her) firsthand knowledge of China, its language, and its traditions, as well as life in New York City, and her characters live and breathe". * = Starred reviews.

Click here to watch Rachel DeWoskin on her experiences living in China, a presentation at the Ann Arbor District Library.

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