The Last Slave Ship, known as the Clotilda, is a mysterious story that can’t be told in a hurry. As a matter of fact, it’s taken 159 years to be told and is still not finished.
It started with simple people living simple lives in their ‘own’ African country, before being captured by a rival tribe, sold to a wealthy slave owner from America and forced to live in squalor on a two-month voyage across an unforgiving Atlantic Ocean.
And despite a then 50-year-old federal law against importing Africans, Clotilda and its cargo of 110 ‘human beings’ still dropped anchor at Mobile Bay on July 9, 1860…capping a gut-wrenching two-month plus voyage for those terrified captives. The Clotilda was burned and sunk in an Alabama River after bringing these slaves across the Atlantic in 1860. Two years ago, its remains were found. We had the honor of speaking with two descendants of slaves that were on that ship, as well as the captain’s descendent who brought the slaves from Africa to Alabama. Darron Patterson is the descendent of the slave, Polle Allen, and Gary Lumbers is the descendent of the slave, Cudjo Lewis. Mike Foster is the descendent of Captain William Foster who built and sailed the ship. The three of them have come together in an unlikely friendship to make sure the story of the Clotilda, and the legacy of the 110 slaves on board, lives on forever.
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Clotilda's on Fire by Shemekia Copeland
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