Never let the World Forget
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We will never let the world forget!
Sometimes good stories don’t take long to write.
Others require much longer research, especially when there’s simply more to talk about and even more puzzling details to unravel.
The account of slave ship Clotilda is one of those mysterious chronicles that can’t be written 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 for the purpose of working in the South’s cotton fields, Clotilda and its cargo of 110 ‘human beings’ (although some accounts say a female jumped overboard to her death at sea) still dropped anchor at Mobile Bay on July 9, 1860 … capping a gut-wrenching 60-day voyage for those terrified captives.
Even more reprehensible is that the entire saga was merely to settle a bet by ship owner Timothy Meaher that federal authorities could indeed be outsmarted.
Fast forward to 124 years later, March of 1984 to be exact, when nine descendants of those original “110” … Eva Jones, Dell Keeby, Herman Richardson, LaDresta Green Sims, Paul Green, Melvin Wright, Lillian Autrey, Linda C. Williams Jones and Helen Richardson Jones … filed paperwork with the State of Alabama to register as ‘The Africatown Direct Descendants of the Clotilda, Inc.’
That group’s elected leaders were President Beatrice Ellis and Vice-president Theodore Arthur, a noted saxophonist, who along with several other officers of that original association still actively tell the Clotilda story today … including Herbert Pair, gifted historians Lorna Woods and Vernetta Henson, and Doris Lee-Allen.
The group’s mission was very clearly spelled out in that document still on file in Montgomery: “Preserve and perpetuate the culture and heritage of the last Africans brought to America … enlighten society about their descendants and African history.”
Translation: Never let the world forget!
And now that the scuttled hulk of Clotilda has been found in murky, alligator infested waters around ‘12 Mile Island’ near Mobile, the story of that last ship to ferry enslaved Africans to America is being told in detail through new books, magazine articles, websites, podcasts and soon several documentaries and movies.
Even more “110” descendants have also now come forward to carry on that original group’s mission, this time simply operating as ‘The Clotilda Descendants Association’ (CDA).
Our goal is to bring all things Clotilda to light … things infamously, and literally, done in the dark when that illegal ship set sail from Benin on the west coast of Africa with our terrified relatives crammed into overcrowded, filthy cargo holds.
WE will forever tell their stories, uphold their legacy, build the ‘Africatown Museum and Performing Arts Center’ to honor them and others who helped shape the community… and press for accountability of the crime that was Clotilda.
We ARE 110!
What We Do
The Clotilda Descendants Association, Inc., is dedicated to preserving the history and well-being of the Africatown Community our forefathers worked so hard to create.
We are totally committed to carrying on their legacy through continuous community involvement, education of future generations of descendants and keeping our ancestor’s dreams of prosperity alive.
To accomplish this, we will work with and support our equally dedicated partners to bring Africatown new housing development, technological ideas to sustain it, renewed community pride and an undying passion to ensure it lives on forever.
With Your Help, We are Making The World a Better Place
Our Mission & Vision
The mission of the CDA is to honor our ancestors; preserve our culture, landmarks, and legacies; and educate future generations of descendants and the community.
Our vision is to create a global network of descendants who work together to preserve and continue the legacy of our ancestors.
A Letter from Us
The promise of the Clotilda Descendants Association is to never let the world forget the resiliency of those 110 brave African men, women and – yes – children crammed nakedly and against their will into the cargo hold of a ship in 1860 for a two-month long journey to Mobile … a trip that was merely for the amusement of a wealthy white slave owner.
That saga changed the lives of those people (yes, they WERE PEOPLE) whom, despite it all, five years later built their own community and shaped it to resemble that beloved homeland they would never see again.
Now, WE … their proud descendants, our many friends and partners … are united to ensure that the Africatown Community they built lives on FOREVER!
We will accomplish this by commemorating and educating the world of sacrifices our ancestors made, to underscore the importance of never ceasing to strive for a better life.
We descendants will give back to the Africatown Community with … among many other things … mentoring, providing scholarships and maintaining community pride.
“Beeni o je!”
(Yoruban for “So be it!”)
Clotilda Descendants Association
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