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Africatown

Africatown


As I was researching Alabama history in writing Wiregrass Chronicles – Long Rows to Hoe, I came across the fascinating story of the Clotilda (aka Clotilde), the last ship to transport slaves from Africa to America. This occurred in 1860, long after the slave trade had been abolished in 1808, and was organized and financed by an Alabama businessman, Timothy Meaher, who made a bet that he could circumvent the law without consequences. The Civil War was just beginning, and Meaher was forced to confront the fact that his venture was unsuccessful.


The Clotilda was deliberately sunk in Mobile Harbor, and its 110 captives were released into the steaming Alabama Delta. Miraculously, and through their courage, grit, and determination, these individuals not only survived but established Africatown in Mobile, a thriving community where their culture was preserved.


My reference to Africatown and its leader, Cudjo Lewis, appears in Chapter 9 of Wiregrass Chronicles -- Long Rows to Hoe, which I completed writing in 2017. Having a deep interest in Africatown, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the ship was discovered at the bottom of Mobile Bay in 2018. “Clotilda: The Exhibition,” opened at the Heritage House in Africatown on July 8, 2023, coinciding with the anniversary of the arrival 163 years ago. The 5,000-square-foot building houses artifacts from the ship, interpretative text panels, documents, and a memorial wall with names of the 110 survivors.


Read more about this intriguing slice of American history at: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/shipwreck-awash-black-history-takes-center-stage-alabama-rcna92919






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