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Guide to the Muslims in Brooklyn oral histories 2018.006

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Elena Locascio

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 13, 2019
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Revised by Maggie Schreiner to reflect updated access restrictions.  , April 2019

Container List

Oral History Interview with Nsenga Knight, August 7, 2018

Biographical / Historical

Nsenga Knight was born in 1981 in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. As a child, her family attended mosques in the nearby Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, including both Masjid At-Taqwa and Masjid Abdul Muhsi Khalifah. As an adult, she became active in New York's fine arts community, creating both exhibitions and performances that explore various facets of her identity as a Black and Muslim woman in the United States. Her formal education included both a bachelor of the fine arts from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and a master of the fine arts from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She moved to Egypt in 2017.

Scope and Contents

In this interview, Nsenga Knight remembers her childhood experiences with Islam, including attending Masjid At-Taqwa and Masjid Abdul Muhsi Khalifah, both in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn; learning martial arts at a local academy run by members of the Nation of Islam; celebrating Eids in Prospect Park; and her mother's conversion to Islam. She also speaks about the value placed on physical strength within her African American Muslim communities. In addition, she extensively discusses her involvement in the arts, especially regarding her performance art at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, exhibitions done with the She Shootin' Photography Collective, and memories of her broader friend group of Muslim artists and scholars. Interview conducted by Zaheer Ali.

Conditions Governing Access

This interview can be accessed onsite at Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online at the Oral History Portal.

Subject Names

  • Knight, Nsenga

Subject Organizations

  • Masjid Abdul Muhsi Khalifah (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • Masjid At-Taqwa (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)
  • She Shootin' Photography Collective (New York, N.Y.)
  • University of Pennsylvania. School of Design
  • When Worlds Collide (Brooklyn, New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Artists, Black -- United States
  • Black Muslims -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Communities -- Religious aspects -- Muslims
  • Food -- Social aspects -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • ʻĪd al-Aḍḥā -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • ʻĪd al-Fiṭr -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Islam -- Customs and practices
  • Islam and art -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Martial arts -- Religious aspects -- Islam
  • Muslim artists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Muslim converts from Christianity -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Muslims, Black -- United States
  • Performance art -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
  • Self-defense -- Religious aspects -- Islam
  • Women artists -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Women in Islam -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
  • East Flatbush (New York, N.Y.)
  • Prospect Park (New York, N.Y.)