Hand-made fez worn by Imam W. D. Mohammed, 1990s

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Since its inception, in the spirit of Carter G. Woodson, Sapelo Square has commemorated Black History Month with daily Black Muslim History facts. This year, Sapelo Square is exploring the Muslim collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). During Black History Month, we will display a different object each day from the collection, showing how the objects help tell the rich histories of Muslims of African descent in the United States. View the entire series at our dedicated Black History Month 2021 page.

Imam W. D. Mohammed wore this handmade fez during his historic address at the Vatican in 1999. Speaking on behalf of Muslims in the United States and around the world, he delivered an interfaith message to an audience of over 100,000 in St. Peter’s Square. The address came at the end of a decade of recognition for Imam Mohammed’s commitment to emphasizing the commonalities of faith traditions dedicated to human salvation. A few years earlier, he had become the first Muslim to offer the invocation in the United States Senate in 1992, and he had led prayers at both inaugurals for President Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997.

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