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Descendants of the Clotilda

by The Urban News

Members of Africatown seek justice and healing when the remains of the Clotilda are discovered.

Descendant follows descendants of the Clotilda, the last ship that smuggled enslaved Africans to the United States. The impact of that crime on generations of people living in Africatown is told by residents and community leaders.

After it was used to illegally kidnap and enslave more than 100 Africans, the 90-foot-long schooner was sunk near Mobile, Alabama decades after the international slave trade was outlawed. Although the wreckage of the Clotilda was found in 2019, the centuries-old secret history of the ship has been kept alive by descendants since 1860.

After the wreckage of the Clotilda was discovered, director Margaret Brown spent four years with the residents of Africatown examining how the discovery impacted their lives. Brown has many of the descendants read from Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon, a book based on her interviews in 1927 with Africatown founder Cudjo Lewis.

Watch Descendant on Netflix.

Africatown, a new book by Nick Tabor

An evocative and epic story, Nick Tabor’s Africatown charts the fraught history of America from those who were brought here as slaves but nevertheless established a home for themselves and their descendants, a community which often thrived despite persistent racism and environmental pollution.

In 1860 the Clotilda was smuggled through the Alabama Gulf Coast, carrying the last group of enslaved people ever brought to the US from West Africa. Five years later, the shipmates were emancipated, but they had no way of getting back home. Instead they created their own community outside the city of Mobile, where they spoke Yoruba and appointed their own leaders, a story chronicled in Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon.

That community, Africatown, has endured to the present day, and many of the community residents are the shipmates’ direct descendants. After many decades…

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