Museum’s ongoing Hikayat storytelling series offers compelling true tales told by those who lived them

Dearborn, Mich. (Jan. 14, 2019) – The word freedom has many definitions. Dictionaries speak of the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; the absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government; or the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. But in real life, freedom can be much more complicated, far more personal. And it is only those who endure in their quest for freedom — in any form — who can speak to this experience.

In celebration of Black History Month, the Arab American National Museum (AANM) and The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers® (TSSOTS) unite for the Friday, Feb. 1 installment of AANM’s Hikayat storytelling series. Professional and non-professional storytellers will share their freedom tales in this collaborative event, which also includes frequent AANM partner, ACCESS’ Campaign to TAKE ON HATE.

With coaching from legendary Detroit storyteller Satori Shakoor – TSSOTS producer, curator and host – experienced and amateur storytellers will give live performances of compelling personal stories of freedom in its many forms. The audience for this special event will not only bear witness, they will be active participants in the storytelling process.

“I believe that listening is a revolutionary act,” says Shakoor. “Being in partnership with AANM to bring these storytellers and their stories to the world, is an expression of peace, service and activism.”

Scheduled storytellers for the Feb. 1 Hikayat include:

Ali Al-Arithy, a Detroit resident who is working on a master’s degree in creative writing while employed as an elementary school teacher and reading interventionist.

Mariam Noor of Detroit is a liberal arts major working on a master’s degree who is passionate about community building and organizing.

Nicole Denson, a Detroit resident who directs advocacy services at the WC SAFE Program, among the most successful and largest stand-alone sexual assault program in Michigan.

Shahad Atiya is an immigration and criminal defense attorney who was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and resides in Detroit. She was part of the cast of AANM’s original production in conjunction with Ping Chong & Co., Undesirable Elements: Dearborn, in Spring 2018.

Tuyishime Claire Gasamagera is an Allen Park-based writer, genocide and AIDS survivor, and co-founder of ARISE (Association of Refugees Immigrants and Survivors of Human Trafficking Engage).

Satori Shakoor is a former Bride of Funkenstein, artist, storyteller and social entrepreneur who hosts The Moth Story Slam in Ann Arbor and WDET’s Twisted Storytellers podcast. Shakoor is the founder, producer, curator and host of The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers and executive director of its parent non-profit, The Society for the Re-Institutionalization of Storytelling. In 2017, Shakoor was named a Kresge Literary Arts Fellow.

The evening will be further enhanced with live music by Leafar (aka Rafael Statin), a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and masterful creative improvisational performer from Detroit whose work is inspired by jazz icon John Coltrane. Joining Leafar are two of the most respected musicians on the Detroit scene: drummer Djallo Djakate and bassist Josef Deas, both seasoned masters of their craft and ardent students of the full range of jazz history and beyond.

Launched in March 2017, AANM’s Hikayat series presents evenings of live storytelling, networking and culture. Hikayat is an Arabic word for story.

“We are honored to give Arab Americans and other communities a platform to share their stories,” says Dave Serio, founder of the Hikayat series. “It’s impressive how relatable the storytellers’ experiences are, how they ring true with the audience regardless of their own background or experience. The level of emotion and vulnerability displayed around everyday topics is just beautiful.”

Hikayat: Freedom Stories

8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, 2019

Arab American National Museum

13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, Mich.

$10 Museum Members, $12 students/seniors, $15 general public

Tickets available in advance at and at the door.

This event is presented in partnership with The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers® and ACCESS’ Campaign to TAKE ON HATE.

It is made possible in part by Michigan Council for Arts and Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Comerica and the Nissan Foundation, with media support from CJAM-FM and New Monitor.


The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers® is a licensed production of The Society for the Re-Institutionalization of Storytelling (TSRS), a Michigan 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. TSRS has a global mission to connect humanity, heal and transform community and to provide an uplifting, through-provoking, soul-cleansing entertainment experience through the art and craft of storytelling.

The Arab American National Museum (AANM) documents, preserves and presents Arab American history, culture and contributions.

AANM is a national institution of Dearborn, Mich.-based human-services agency ACCESS, the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the U.S. AANM is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums; an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution; and a founding member of the Immigration and Civil Rights Network of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI, 48126. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is $8 for adults; $4 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under and Museum Members, free.

Visit or call 313.582.2266 for further information.


Kim Silarski | Communications Manager | Arab American National Museum

13624 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI 48126 | Office 313.624.0206 | Cell 313.670.1300


Connect with us | ACCESS | Arab American National Museum |
National Network for Arab American Communities | Center for Arab American Philanthropy

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