Sen. Doug Jones has introduced a resolution in the United States Senate to memorialize the discovery of the Clotilda, the last known ship to bring enslaved Africans to the United States.
The Clotilda arrived in Mobile Bay in 1860, 53 years after the United States Congress banned the importation of enslaved people in 1807. Following the end of the Civil War in 1865, some of the captives who were brought to the United States aboard the Clotilda settled in the area now known as Africatown. On May 22, 2019, the Alabama Historical Commission and a team of scientists confirmed that wreckage found in the Mobile River was the Clotilda.
The resolution comes as Senator Jones and his team have been actively working with local stakeholders and community leaders in Africatown to protect the remains of the ship and to memorialize the discovery in a way that best represents the historical significance of the Clotilda.
Senator Jones’ resolution states that the “discovery of the Clotilda may serve as an inflection point for meaningful conversation on both past and present injustices” and that “the residents of Africatown, Alabama, embody a spirit of resilience and a determination to build a better community for their own descendants.”
The resolution concludes that “to preserve and protect the Clotilda and associated historic sites in Africatown, Alabama; and to use the discovery of the Clotilda to provide education to local, national, and international audiences about the violent history of the transatlantic slave trade; the stories of the last enslaved Africans to arrive in the United States; and the rich and unique history of the community built by the descendants of those individuals.”
“I was very elated to hear of the Resolution that Senator Doug Jones is introducing to acknowledge and pledge support of preserving the Clotilda and developing Africatown. His initiative is consistent with what I, along with Senator Phil Williams, did in the 2018 Legislative Session via a Senate Joint Resolution,” state Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, said. “This is the right thing to do in honor of the 110 African men, women and children who were brought to Mobile with the intent of enslaving them. It will be poetic justice to their descendants to finally give them their honor. I look forward to working with Senator Jones as we strive to make this area an economic engine as well as a major historical attraction in this country.”