In Alabama, Commemoration Set for ‘Last Slave Ship’

MOBILE, ALA. An archaeological report will be released Thursday on the discovery of what experts believe is the last ship known to have brought enslaved people from Africa to the United States.

The event in the Africatown community of Mobile also will include a community celebration and commemoration event marking the discovery of the schooner Clotilda, according to the Alabama Historical Commission.

The commission said in a recent news release interest in locating the remains of the Clotilda was renewed after a journalist reported that he believed he had located the ship last year. Even though the ship he found turned out not to be the Clotilda, it led to the commission’s and other organizations’ efforts to locate the Clotilda’s wreckage.

A team of maritime archaeology experts conducted an assessment of a previously unsearched area of the Mobile River and historical research and an archaeological survey revealed up to two dozen 19th and 20th century vessels. One closely matched characteristics of the Clotilda and peer-reviewed findings concluded that the wreck is likely the Clotilda.

Officials have said they are working on a plan to preserve the site where the ship was located.

James Delgado, a maritime archaeologist who helped lead the team that verified the wreck as the Clotilda, recently told The Associated Press the ship’s remains are delicate but the potential for both research and inspiration are enormous.

Joycelyn Davis, a descendant of one of the Africans held captive aboard the ship, said she wants to somehow honor both the ship’s human cargo and the hard work of them and their descendants in forming Africatown , where the Africans settled when they were freed from slavery after the Civil War.

The commission said organizations involved in the research and survey efforts include the Black Heritage Council, the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, the Slave Wrecks Project, Diving with a Purpose, SEARCH Inc. and the National Park Service.

Source: Voice of America