MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Over the weekend, the Africatown Heritage House opened in Mobile with a full day of events to honor the 110 enslaved people who were taken from their homeland aboard the Clotilda.
The first event was the annual “Landing Ceremony” early Saturday morning. Dozens gathered under the Africatown Bridge near the water. This “Landing Ceremony” takes on special significance with coverage from around the country, descendants share stories and memories–and end with a wreath tossed into the water.
“It is important that the world never forget, never forget their bravery, their resilience, their survival. And the thing that’s unique about them. They were born free and they came to this country and were enslaved,” William Green with the Clotilda Descendants Association said.
About an hour later, people gathered outside waiting their turn to go into the Africatown Heritage House, which opened for the first time, making stories generations passed down real.
“For a long time, their story was withheld. They couldn’t tell their story. So now we’re seeing that there’s a whole museum dedicated to their story. And this is not just the story of the one group from the Clotilda. This is also the story of the town of Africatown,” Africatown Heritage House Manager Jessica Fairley said.
It’s a bright new landmark next to the Mobile County Training School that is teaming with history.
“Not just learn a history of incredible and remarkable people, the remarkable community they created. But I hope that they also come away knowing that the past is very much present,” Meg Fowler with the History Museum of Mobile said.
Those close to the project said Heritage House is a big deal for Mobile, as well as to lot of people across the country.
“I am part of the descendants of Sally and Billy Smith. They were my ancestors and that’s why I traveled all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio,” said Dannielle Moore. “To be a part of the heritage was very important for me to kind of understand where I came from and how everything’s all going moving forward.”