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Mon Jan 11, 2021, 10:11 PM

'Heritage House' approved: Africatown museum to tell story of slave ship and community (al.com)

By John Sharp | jsharp@al.com

Africatown’s story as a community founded by the survivors of the last slave ship to enter the United States will have a new showcase inside a “heritage house” that will be constructed within the heart of the north Mobile community.

A $1.3 million contract to build the approximately 5,000-square-foot Africatown Heritage House and an accompany memorial garden was approved by the Mobile County Commission Monday. The construction contract was awarded to Mobile-based Hughes Plumbing & Utility Contractors, which is operated by Preston Hughes III, son of one of the first African Americans to be licensed as a Master Plumber in Alabama.

The Heritage House, which is essentially a museum dedicated to telling Africatown’s complex story, is viewed as one of the earliest projects within a community that public officials and historians believe is primed for a renaissance following the 2019 discovery of the hull of the slave ship Clotilda.
Ludgood said the Heritage House could be open to the public by early August.

“This will be a place to go and see the story (of Africatown) including the (Clotilda) artifacts,” Ludgood said.
more: https://www.al.com/news/2021/01/heritage-house-gets-greenlight-africatown-museum-to-tell-story-of-slave-ship-and-community.html

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Reply 'Heritage House' approved: Africatown museum to tell story of slave ship and community (al.com) (Original post)
eppur_se_muova Jan 11 OP
Brother Buzz Jan 11 #1
misanthrope Jan 11 #2

Response to eppur_se_muova (Original post)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 10:42 PM

1. I read Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston years ago

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau (Africatown), Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation's history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo's firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.

In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo's past--memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War.

Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo's unique vernacular, and written from Hurston's perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.

In the last few years, there have been some developments, like discovering the burnt ruins of the Clotilda and the documentation of a woman who outlived Cudjo.

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Response to Brother Buzz (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 11, 2021, 10:55 PM

2. I don't expect the entire story to be told

I wonder how many will notice that Africatown is now just a few blocks of dilapidated houses riddled and surrounded by toxic heavy industry. Ever since those kidnapped Africans landed in Mobile County, they have been under assault. By the culture, by American-born Blacks who regarded them with suspicion, by whites and largely by the Meaher family that illegally shipped them here.

Generations of Africatown residents have been saturated by carcinogens. Then their town was diced up for industry, halved by an expressway, their business district wiped out by another road project.

And the mayor who is suddenly acting supportive of their efforts? His family business overtook and wiped out one of Africatown's historic neighborhoods when establishing his family's lumber yards and wood treatment facilities.

If the powers that be told out-of-town visitors the complete Africatown story, those cultural tourists would have mixed feelings about spending too much money in Mobile. They would be rightly disgusted.

Also, if you want to get a more complete story of the Africatown saga, read Sylviane Diouf's "Dreams of Africa in Alabama." It will clarify a lot of what I mentioned, especially what a monster Timothy Meaher was. The generational wealth he built and passed down has made his clan one of the wealthier families in southwest Alabama.

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