NC


Omar ibn SaidAn interesting article appeared today in the Raleigh News & Observer, reminding me of the story of Omar ibn Said (ca. 1770-1863), a Muslim teacher and trader who was sold into slavery in Africa and sent to America in 1806 or 1807 — see “Slave and scholar led exceptional life in N.C.

Although often called a “prince,” it would be more accurate to say that Said was from a prominent family of Futa Toro, which is now part of Senegal. The Wikipedia article on Said says he was captured in a military conflict before being sent to America. A bio from UNC says he was convicted of an unspecified crime.

Said eventually wound up with the wealthy Owen family of Fayetteville, N.C. The family evidently gave him few work assignments, allowing Said to live an easier life and pursue scholarly efforts.

A historian at the N.C. Office of Archives and History told the News & Observer that Said “was likely the most educated slave in North Carolina and one of the best documented practicing Muslim slaves in America.”

Here is an excerpt from an autobiography by Said, which appears to have been written in 1831:

I reside in this our country by reason of great necessity. Wicked men took me by violence and sold me to the Christians. We sailed a month and a half on the great sea to the place called Charleston in the Christian land. I fell into the hands of a small, weak and wicked man, who feared not God at all nor did he read (the gospel) at all nor pray.

I was afraid to remain with a man so depraved and who committed so many crimes and I ran away. After a month our Lord God brought me forward to the hand of a good man, who fears God, and loves to do good, and whose name is Jim Owen and whose brother is called Col. John Owen. These are two excellent men. I am residing in Bladen County.

I continue in the hand of Jim Owen who never beats me, nor scolds me. I neither go hungry nor naked, and I have no hard work to do. I am not able to do hard work for I am a small man and feeble. During the last twenty years I have known no want in the hand of Jim Owen.

The News & Observer article says that on Friday Nov. 5, the state of North Carolina will inaugurate a roadside historical marker in Fayetteville, in front of a mosque name after Omar ibn Said.

AB — 31 Oct. 2010

Jeff Bredenberg Nov. 2009My brother, Jeff Bredenberg, died at home in Oreland, Pa., on Tuesday night, March 2, 2010. He had been sick with brain cancer for about 2 1/2 years.

Jeff and I are both natives of Raleigh, NC. Some readers might know him as a Raleighite. Others might know him for his work in the newspaper world or book publishing. Recently he had become known for his How to Cheat … book series, which included How to Cheat at Cleaning — see How to Cheat Books.

A memorial service for Jeff will take place this Saturday, March 6, 2010, at 1 p.m., at the BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Warrington, Pa. — this link should lead to a map.

Here is the text of Jeff’s obituary — see also the versions in the Philadelphia Inquirer and in the Raleigh News & Observer for March 5:

Jeffrey Ellis Bredenberg

Nov. 26, 1953, to March 2, 2010

Jeff Bredenberg about 1970Jeffrey Ellis Bredenberg, 56, a former newspaper editor who later wrote and edited books, died Tuesday, March 2, 2010, of glioblastoma, a brain tumor, at his home in Oreland, Pa.

He completed two books after his diagnosis in September 2007.

A native of Raleigh, N.C., he got his first newspaper job at age 16 working as a copy boy and then copy editor for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. He then worked for newspapers in Fort Myers, Fla., Burlington, Vt., Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, and Wilmington, Del. He worked for the News Journal in Wilmington as an assistant managing editor from 1988 to 1994. During that time, he redesigned the newspaper and supervised various newsroom departments.

In 1994, he joined the book division of Rodale Press in Emmaus, Pa., rising to the rank of managing editor. In 1998, he became vice president for content for the Internet health portal Intelihealth.com, based in Blue Bell, Pa. Since 2002, he had worked as a freelance writer and editor of books and articles (www.jeffbredenberg.com).

During his career, he wrote, edited, or otherwise contributed to more than 25 books. His most recent releases were a how-to series, How to Cheat at Cleaning, How to Cheat at Organizing, How to Cheat at Home Repair, and How to Cheat at Gardening and Yard Work (www.howtocheatbooks.com).

He appeared frequently in print articles, online, and on television. His TV appearances included “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” and “The Today Show—Weekend Edition.”

Jeff graduated from Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh in 1972. His higher education was a patchwork affair, including a year at North Carolina State University and classes at Edison Community College in Fort Myers, Fla., the University of Vermont in Burlington, and Temple University.

He met his wife, Stacey Burling, at the Rocky Mountain News, where he worked as an editor and she was a reporter. They married in 1988 in Denver.

Jeffrey Ellis Bredenberg 1955He frequently participated in events at his sons’ Cub and Boy Scout troops, volunteered with the youth group at BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and rarely missed his sons’ soccer or baseball games or band concerts.

He is survived by his wife; sons Adam and Colin; his mother, Gladys Bredenberg, of Raleigh; and his brother and sister-in-law, Alfred and Virginia Bredenberg, of Raleigh. His father, Paul Bredenberg, a retired philosophy professor at North Carolina State University, died in November 2009.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 6, 2010, at BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2040 Street Rd., Warrington, Pa. 18976.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the National Brain Tumor Society, East Coast Office, 124 Watertown St., Suite 2D, Watertown, MA 02472.

AB — 4 March 2010