Route 66: Where the American Story is the Muslim Story

Alex Kronemer, Emmy-nominated director and co-founder of the media and educational nonprofit Unity Productions Foundation, tells host Ambereen Khan about his latest project, the PBS limited series, The Great Muslim American Road Trip. On a mission to break stereotypes, a Muslim American couple embarks on a journey to learn, listen and discover a history they did not fully know – the deep-rooted history of Islam in the Heartland along Route 66.

“We’re really trying to tell the story of people.”
Alex Kronemer shares behind-the-scenes insights about the show’s protagonists: Syrian-American rapper Mona Haydar and her husband, educator, and Muslim convert Sebastian Robins. We hear about their stakes in taking the cross-country journey, and how they fit into a larger movement to break monolithic stereotypes about the religion and its followers.

“Each one of these kids carries a dream.”
As Haydar and Robins travel historic Route 66, they encounter Muslims they meet and hear their untold stories of Islam’s contributions to American history and culture. We meet worshippers from a diverse Midwest mosque who help Kronemer “demystify” who Muslims in America really are by sharing their prayers, beliefs, and daily experiences.

“We have seen this cultural shift happen in Hollywood.”
Kronemer lays out the history of Muslim representation in Hollywood media, and charts how negative perceptions of off-screen Muslims are influenced by on-screen Muslim characters. He covers changes in both Hollywood and public opinion, ignited by a rejection of the “othering” of Muslims and a growing willingness to change the narratives about them.

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