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The Great Muslim American Road Trip

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This three-part documentary series follows a millennial Muslim American couple on a cross-country journey along historic Route 66 as they explore Islam’s deep roots in America. Making more than a dozen stops between Chicago and Los Angeles (including St. Louis), rapper Mona Haydar and her husband Sebastian Robins meet with authors, entrepreneurs, medical students, performers and others to better understand the centuries-long Muslim experience in the United States. This 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.

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The Great Muslim American Road Trip in St. Louis 

The Missouri State Historical Museum is housed on the grounds of the 1894 St. Louis World’s Fair, an event that, as Haydar and Robins discover, brought a first wave of Muslim immigrants to Missouri. They meet Dr. Edward Curtis, a much-published expert on Muslims in America. Dr. Curtis takes them through an exhibit featuring the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, an event that kicked off one of the first major influxes of Muslims into the American Midwest, bringing to its prairie culture various Arab and Muslim influences and touches, including the fabled ice cream cone and the invention of the “bad guy” character in American wrestling, introduced by one early 20th Century Syrian wrestler’s theatrics in the ring. 

Muslim immigration has continued to the city. Today, St. Louis is home to more than 70,000 Bosnian Muslims. Haydar and Robins meet one such family as they lunch at a Bosnian restaurant and talk to the owners, Sulejman and Emmina Grbic, who share their story of survival and immigration to the U.S., an odyssey that took them from factory work and truck driving to establishing one of the most successful restaurants in St. Louis.