We started this year’s black history month theme with four definitions of the word, “family.” The next few days will focus on this definition: “any singular group of people who are descendants of a common ancestor (distant or recent).” In other words, a group of people related to those with a shared and known/documented ancestry.
One example of this definition of family, is the highlight for today’s black history moment: The Clotilda Descendants of Africatown.
Key Facts – The Clotilda Descendants of Africatown (Mobile, AL)
* References a group of people that are the descendants of African captives that were smuggled aboard the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to arrive in the USA.
* In 1860, acting on a dare (bet), an Alabama plantation owner (Timothy Meaher) organized an illegal operation under cover of darkness, to use his ship (The Clotilda) to smuggle over 100 captive Africans from the Kingdom of Dahomey (now present-day country of Benin) to Mobile Bay, AL.
* These captive Africans from modern-day Benin were enslaved in Mobile, Alabama, up until the end of the American Civil War
* By Emancipation and beyond, these now formerly enslaved Africans and their descendants, ended up establishing a community/settlement in Mobile, Alabama. This community/settlement became known as “Africatown.”
* In 2019, marine archaeologists discovered the remains of the Clotilda slave ship in the Mobile River
Significance – The Clotilda Descendants of Africatown (Mobile, AL)
* The discovery and positive identification of the Clotilda slave ship remains, conferred legitimacy on the historical narrative involving Mobile’s Africatown, and verified the Clotilda descendants’ stories regarding their ancestral heritage
* Offers a compelling case for pursuing reparations on behalf of Africatown’s Clotilda descendant families
* Increased general interest in tourism and business investment in Mobile’s Africatown community
Visit the below websites and/or conduct your own research to learn more about the Clotilda descendants (and the slaver that trafficked their ancestors):
The Clotilda Story (The Clotilda Descendants Association)
Wreckage of the Last U.S. Slave Ship Is Finally Identified in Alabama
National Geographic (video): “What the Discovery of the Last American Slave Ship Means to Descendants”
FOX10 News (2019 video): “Perspectives: Clotilda”
C-SPAN video: “Clotilda Slave Ship Descendants’ Reunion” (Spirit of our Ancestors Festival)
Encyclopedia of Alabama (Timothy Meaher)
AL.com news article: “Why do slave-ship Clotilda owner’s descendants still cower in silence?”