After offloading his human cargo onto Meaher’s brother’s riverboat, Foster sailed up a bayou, where (according to his own handwritten account) he burned and sunk the Clotilda in 20 feet of water. It was the only way to destroy the evidence of his crime: the unmistakable stench of human waste that permeated the very wood of the ship. The 109 people who survived endured four years of slavery before the end of the Civil War, and they never returned home. Today, many of their descendants still live near Mobile.
this acclaimed volume tells the moving story of the last recorded group of Africans deported to the United States as slaves–more than fifty years after the United States abolished the international slave trade. Sylviane A. Diouf reconstructs the lives of 110 men, women, and children from Benin and Nigeria who were brought ashore in Alabama in 1860 under cover of night, recounting their capture and passage in the slave pen in Ouidah, and describing their experience of slavery alongside American-born enslaved men and women. After emancipation, the group reunited from various plantations, bought land, and founded their own settlement, known as African Town. They ruled it according to customary African laws, spoke their own regional language and, when giving interviews, insisted that writers use their African names so that their families would know that they were still alive. African Town is still home to a community of Clotilda descendants
Makes me weep.
Racism is so stupid. It’s like taking personal credit for the fact that your great-grandmother wasn’t born in West Africa.
I’ve been following the Clotilda story for a long time but just a few months ago found this fascinating clip: from an interview from the 1930’s of a lady now presumed to be the very last survivor of that last slave ship—the last person to experience the horrific Middle Passage as cargo. Meet Sally Smith, aka Rodoshi, who was stolen and sold as a child in Benin.
I don’t think I want to watch it.
It is good to grieve what has been lost. It humanizes the people broken by our broken reality, and it humanizes us.
I wonder if I need to be more human than I already am? I don’t watch horror movies – there’s enough terror in the world without terrorizing yourself.
I certainly agree that learning more about such horrific phenomena of human history can be very depressing and sickening.
I think of Eliezer Wiesel devoting his life to human rights and to making sure that the world would never forget what happened in the Holocaust when human beings were relegated to disposable things. He lost his entire family and lived out his life with vividly terrible memories of what happened to them. On one level I don’t want to know much of his story—and yet I feel that I must know his story. I feel the same way about Rodoshi, a survivor of the Clotilda.