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"A discussion of slavery in Alabama." An APR news special for Black History Month, part 4

GulfQuest Maritime Museum

All month long, the Alabama Public Radio news team has featured excerpts from a public discussion on slavery in the state. The event took place at the GulfQuest Maritime Museum in Mobile, which is hosting an exhibition on slave ships. I was joined on stage by William Green. He’s a member of the Clotilda Descendants Association. Green’s ancestor was one of the Africans kidnapped and transported to the Mobile area before the Civil War aboard the slave ship Clotilda. In today’s conclusion, I turned the microphone over to the audience at GulfQuest for their questions of Bill Green. The first subject was about Timothy Meaher, the man who financed the illegal voyage of the Clotilda.

“I'm Bill. I was born in Franklin, Tennessee, but my mom and dad are mobile. And so we I've been here since I was four, except when I was serving in the Air Force. My question is the mayor, the mayor family.I know that they bankrolled it. But were they then the enslavers or did they just sell off everybody?”

“A number of them stayed with the mayor's they split them up between the marriage brothers, that was Timothy Burn,” Green responded. “And the third one I forget. And there were some that Captain Foster was the captain of the ship. There was it says, Captain Foster actually has writing of it, not an actual log of that because he couldn't keep actual logs of it because it was illegal. But in the Mobile Public Library there if you there's a whole section on the Clotilda. But Captain Forster actually writes about the expedition, and that he was given 10 of the Africans also. And the others were shuffled between, I think, as far as so my n and northern counties of Alabama are well alone north of of mobile. So they were on a scuffle about, but the records indicate that about 30 to 32 of them came back to Timothy Meaher and to request that they be given passage back to Africa. And of course, he denied that and then he asked for land and he said, ‘I will sell you land.’ So they were very industrious, and they worked hard, save them money, and purchased land from Tim with Amir and others. And the area that is now African.”

“Okay, my name is Audrey Barr and I live in Fairhope. How many of the original people are represented in the Descendants Association. Like you know, you've got your family and Louis's have their family, how many of them are there represented?”

Clarence Hall

“There's was 110, brought over on the Clotilda,” said Green. “Our membership in the organization is at over 50. Some people, the families represented in that 50 people as a member of the organization, I would venture to guess maybe 10, if not more. And the problem. With that being said, we're such a diverse, and geographically scattered,
descendants trying to touch base, and let others know about us. That's one of our message…mission. And that's one of our challenges. So that we get more and more of those descendants to be affiliated with the organization. First of all, to acknowledge themselves. Some of them don't even know that they're descendants. So, there's that challenge."

“I'm Sandra Anderson from Tucson, Arizona. And my question is about the Heritage House. We drove out there yesterday, and we had a slight tour through the construction area. But I'm interested to know how your society worked to get this museum to happen, and a little more detail about when it will be open, and the relationship of the community with the museum.”

“Now, I truly wish that we the descendants organization could take credit for it,” admitted But actually, it was through a combined unit united effort of Commissioner Merceria Ludgood and others within a Mobile County. That was the impetus for the idea of the Heritage House and follow through getting the funding of it. Now. Yes, our families aren't and ancestors and descendants or are represented within the Heritage House. However, we don't want to take full width organization and want to take full credit for that. We were just one of many parties that tried to lend our hand in making it come about.”

“I'm Kathy I was born in Cleveland, but I've lived here immobile for over 30 years. So have you all worked with and 23andme to help identify more descendants, and it might be they might be interested in advertising through that you know how Does commercials, so you might get some free help?”

“Yes, we've actually worked with National Geographic and I guess I can give a plug for National Geographic. In the coming year, you will see an actual photographic documentary of some of our descendants actually took a trip back to Africa, sponsored by the National Geographic. And, I think it's coming up probably in 2024. But we have worked with National Geographic, and we've also worked with African” .

<em>Slaves For Sale: A Scene In New Orleans</em>
NYPL via Wikimedia Commons
Slaves For Sale: A Scene In New Orleans

“My name is Cam from Mobile. What questions remain unanswered for you?”

“Cam, thank you for that question. That's a thought provoking question. The thing that remains unanswered for us is perhaps the connection from the other side, the knowledge that the enslavers had that could bring to bear on the thoughts what the Africans did, how they were treated, the motivation for the expedition…remnants from our actual historical documents that they would have to say, now we have one document supposedly from Augustine Meaher junior… Augustine Meaher, senior. He lists some of the names of Africans that were actually owned by the MER family, but a more extensive understanding of those beyond the ones that were just in Africa town and beyond those that we know of. There were like we say, there were some taken to Selma into those areas, a more extensive understanding and knowledge of those, as well as um, we're often reminded the women on the ship because they write so much about the men, but very little is known about the females that actually came on the ship.”

Editor's note— GulfQuest is an underwriter of Alabama Public Radio

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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