MOBILE, Ala. (WIAT) — “For 160 years, this muddy stretch of the Mobile River covered up a crime.”
That’s how reporter Anderson Cooper began his segment of “60 Minutes” Sunday night to discuss Africatown, a neighborhood in Mobile that was founded by slaves who came aboard the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to arrive in the United States.
The news program had previously reported on the community back in 2020, when journalist Ben Raines and others uncovered the remains of the Clotilda in the Mobile River. The ship, which carried 110 slaves, had arrive in the area in July 1860 after a 45-day voyage from West Africa.
On the program Sunday, Cooper spoke with descendants of the slaves, who talked about how the community had dwindled to only 800 people over the years. They also talked about how the descendants of Timothy Meaher, the slave owner who paid to smuggle the slaves into Mobile, would not acknowledge or address their part in Africatown’s history.
That all changed in July, when a two of Meaher’s descendants decided to meet with the descendants of Africatown’s founders.
“We were silent for far too long and we were distant for far too long,” Meg Meaher said during the interview. “And we’re very happy to be able to finally break the silence and to narrow the distance.”
Those who thought that the meeting would never take place spoke about what they hoped the future could now look like.
“My hope is that this can be an example of what reconciliation looks like, for the nation, as well as start the healing process for a number of descendants,” said Jeremy Ellis, president of the Clotilda Descendants Association.
The full report can be viewed here.