For Arab American Heritage Month, Professor Edward Curtis explores his own Arab American roots in Southern Illinois, where his Syrian-Lebanese great-grandfather settled in 1899. What he discovered—a secret love affair and the surprising sympathetic press coverage—challenges what we think we know about the small-town Midwest. His article, “Moses of Cairo (Illinois),” was published April 24 in Belt, a magazine of independent writing by and for the Rust Belt.
Edward E. Curtis IV is the Plater Chair of the Liberal Arts at Indiana University, Indianapolis. He is the author or editor of 14 books about Black, Muslim, and Arab American history and life, including Arab Indianapolis and Muslims of the Heartland: How Syrian Immigrants Made a Home in the American Midwest.