City, county and state officials have announced future plans for an exhibit in the Africatown area of Mobile focused on the last ship to bring enslaved people to the U.S.
The Alabama Historical Commission has partnered with the History Museum of Mobile to develop “Clotilda: The Exhibition” in a new facility planned in Africatown.
The exhibit will include the histories of the final journey of the slave ship, the settlement and history of Africatown, and the discovery of the sunken schooner, all through a combination of interpretive text panels, documents and artifacts, according to a statement from the commission.
“This exhibition will be a central, physical location for locals and tourists alike to discover the details of this important history,” History Museum of Mobile Director Meg McCrummen Fowler said in the statement.“Our priority is ensuring that the citizens of Africatown get the full benefit of this exhibition. The History Museum of Mobile is honored to be offering our staff’s enormous experience with archeology, anthropology and public history. Ultimately, though, this exhibition is about Africatown telling Africatown’s story.”
The exhibit will be housed in a forthcoming facility, the Africatown Heritage House, which will be adjacent to the Robert Hope Community Center. Construction will begin immediately. Work on the facility is expected to be completed by late summer 2020, with the exhibit tentatively opening in October 2020.
“The story of the Clotilda is one of the most important in our history and now the citizens of Africatown, Mobile, the state and beyond will be able to learn and explore that history through the exhibition,” Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said in a statement.
The exhibit will serve as a platform to continue dialogue and facilitate much-needed understanding and education about the impact of slavery and the long-lasting effects that have shaped Alabama and the country. Artifacts from the ship, in tandem with first-hand accounts of Clotilda survivors, will not only serve as insight into the Middle Passage, but also as tools that could shape how we all understand and teach the effects of the abhorrent institution that was slavery and the aftermath of emancipation.
Mobile City Council President Levon Manzie, who represents Africatown, said in a statement he was proud of the announcement and the work being done in the community.
“This is an incredible opportunity to share this important story with the world while furthering our efforts to revitalize the Africatown community that already so reflects the resiliency exemplified by the Clotilda,” Manzie said. “I’m proud that we have been able to secure the funding for this facility, which will not only be key to telling the story of the Clotilda and Africatown, but it will also serve as a place for the community to gather for years to come.”
Admission to the exhibit will be free for Mobile County residents, according to the statement. For nonresidents, their admission fees will be reinvested into the operations at the site.
“It is so gratifying to see federal, state and local governments and private industry come together to bring another major asset to the Africatown community,” County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood said. “Collaborations like these ensure that we will be able to honor and preserve the memory and legacy of the Clotilda and her descendants for generations to come.”
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