Africatown and the Last Slave Ship
Mar 26, 2020
I was born in this old room house right next to the union baptist church in plateau, mobile, Alabama. In this house, my grandmother had taught us a whole lot about this history. But me being a little girl, I didn't know that this history wasn't as important as it is. They wanted us to remember that our family came over on the cold tilt of the last slave ship. They made a bit down on the mobile docks. That they could bring this ship unseen and unheard. Because they knew it was illegal. It was a racist deed at victimized a 111 people from beneath. And brought up here with the intent of enslaving them. They wanted to make sure nobody's name was connected. So when they burned that ship, they said no parts of it was left. That's a very powerful dissented community right here in mobile Alabama called africatown. Just like our ancestors. And as we think about how our ancestors here are leaving America a lot of them live off of the water. They trying to reclaim a memory and reclaim identity and reclaim culture. That was stolen from them. It gives their wheels to this lane. And they had a four sided vision to start a church, a community in a school. What can you ask? They started Africa town with a meek and humble beginning. The day wanted to make this their Africa. They wanted everything right here. This community at one time was self sustaining, had barbershops, grocery stores, cleaners, everything that you needed. We had fruit trees everywhere. Everybody had chickens and gardens. There was always something cooked that somebody's house and they cooked on wood stoves. African town was family. Everyone looked out for each other. It was a place where we had pride. When I started to talk about Africa town, sometimes I get a little emotional because it's nothing like well I grew up. Up until the late 50s after town was its own incorporated area. But mobile began to court after town. And in the 60s, the city rezoned from residential to heavy industry. Because they wanted to get those taxes from those industries. So I can understand people in the area feeling if they have been forgotten because they were just like the bulldoze everything in here moves in 2000 people out and just industrialized the rest of it. They figured they ignore you and just let your house follow down. People die off and buy off your land, then that's what they'll do. When I first came to Apple town, I met the congregation, I found out that just about the area. The family has someone that they knew or was infected by cancer. Most of the people who were sick who had been the ones that was playing in this sood in this asset was falling from the smokestacks of the industry around. When you look around, it's dilapidated homes. No one has put any dollars to open up a store. That's why the hope is gone. There's been economic tragedies that's been environmental tragedies to horrific extent. But there are folks who are holding on. Now after they able to go down and parts of that ship. Maybe now it'll be documented as last place. This mission is about, again, during the comprehensive search of all the vessels that's in the stretch of the river. And if by chance we run across something of interest, that will be great. 6 inch iron spike and that was on the wood. Okay. At least they're going to have to be. Okay. Are you going down? Are you going up? Okay. Feels all wood. Okay? Identifying a shipwreck is a difficult business. We look at what the craftsmanship suggests to us. There's one target in particular that stands out. It's roughly the same size as clotilde. 86 feet long and 23 feet wide, according to its registration documents. Frames evoke as well as planks of southern yellow pine. Fasteners all made of iron. We haven't seen a single fastener yet made of copper or brass. We've got a ship of the right size and what we think is the right place. At this stage, where we're at, this could be Clotilda. Yep, vessel is located. It's going to be a very powerful artifact. The app is tell the story. We think that would be one of the most historic finds in America, not just in Africa town. The whole story becomes life and becomes true. To start a new chapter, from their perspective, it can present many, many opportunities for them. People are getting excited about the community, to rebuild it, to give it its prominence. And we have to prove that we need to know that we were part of the history of mobile. We need to tell it. We need to share it. We need to expose it to the world. If you people will live to me from my heart I pray that I will blame all the brave, bring all the boys back home safe. For we are America, we are America.