Finding America's Muslim Roots on Route 66
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A Three-Part Television Series
Premiering on PBS Stations JULY 5th, 2022
A three-part documentary series, "THE GREAT MUSLIM AMERICAN ROAD TRIP" features a millennial Muslim American couple on a 3000-mile journey across Route 66 as they explore Islam’s deep roots in America. Making over a dozen stops between Chicago and Los Angeles, rapper Mona Haydar and her husband Sebastian Robins visit authors, entrepreneurs, medical students, performers, and others to better understand the centuries-long Muslim experience in the United States. This nationally broadcast series highlights the diversity of Muslims across the nation and their contributions to history and culture, weaving a colorful story of what it means to be a Muslim in America today.
Mona Haydar and Sebastian Robins, series hosts
Mona Haydar is a Syrian American Muslim born in Flint, Michigan. Her husband Sebastian Robins is an educator and convert to Islam. Both are passionate advocates for civil rights and inclusivity. In 2015, in the wake of extremist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, the couple gained international attention for their "Talk to a Muslim" project — an impromptu stand they set up in Cambridge, Massachusetts to "replace trauma with love" by offering coffee, free donuts and flowers in exchange for questions and dialogue.
An English major and a poet, Mona Haydar holds an M.A. in Christian Ethics from the Union Theological Seminary in New York. In 2016 she turned her talents to rap music. When her debut song "Wrap my Hijab" went viral, Billboard Magazine placed it among "The 20 Best Protest Songs of 2017" and named it one of the "Top 25 Feminist Anthems."
Sebastian Robins has served as both coordinator and CEO of the Lama Foundation. He has also worked as an elementary school teacher, vice principal, and assistant professor. As an advocate for sustainable agriculture, he has helped establish and maintain farms across the country. Sebastian is Mona Haydar’s music manager.
Together, the couple have been featured on NPR, CNN, CBS, BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, People Magazine, BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Mic, Marie Claire, Glamour, Refinery 29 and other publications. Their work was showcased in a 2017 episode of the Peabody and Emmy-nominated short documentary series "The Secret Life of Muslims".
Some of the People They Meet ...
Hossam Aboul-Magd, director of photography
Hossam Aboul-Magd is an award-winning Egyptian American filmmaker, director and director of photography based in Washington, DC. Over a 25-year career, Hossam has made films in sixty countries on four continents for PBS, National Geographic, Discovery, History, BBC, CNN and others.
Alex Kronemer, series director
Alex Kronemer has been working for peace and interfaith understanding for most of his adult life. A graduate of George Washington University, he helped successfully lobby Congress to establish the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. Shortly after, he attended Harvard Divinity School, where he studied comparative religions on his way to receiving an M.A. in Theological Studies. After graduation, he worked for two years at a resettlement agency in Boston, helping refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Eastern Europe find jobs and homes in the U.S.
Alex has published articles in numerous newspapers, magazines and journals. He has appeared as a commentator on Islam and religion on CNN and other networks. In the late 1990s, he was the Middle East Desk Officer in the U.S. State Department Office of Human Rights and Democracy, helping to staff the newly formed Office of International Religious Freedom.
In 1999, Alex and author Michael Wolfe cofounded Unity Productions Foundation, a media and educational nonprofit dedicated to creating peace and understanding about Muslims, Islam, and other religions in the world. Unity Production Foundation (UPF) has gone on to produce twelve documentaries for national broadcast and theatrical release and has received numerous prestigious film awards, including an Emmy nomination for a PBS docudrama “The Sultan and the Saint,” which Alex wrote and directed. UPF’s most recent production, an animated film about a Syrian refugee girl entitled "Lamya’s Poem," has been an official selection in six major film festivals in Europe and North America since its debut in June 2021 and is expected in theaters in 2022. In addition, UPF has launched dozens of interfaith and peacemaking projects in the U.S. and abroad.