Nick Tabor

Africatown: America’s Last Slave Ship and the Community it Created

A History Camp Discussion with Nick Tabor about his book Africatown: America’s Last Slave Ship and the Community it Created.

From the Publisher:

“An evocative and epic story, Nick Tabor’s Africatown charts the fraught history of America from those who were brought here as slaves but nevertheless established a home for themselves and their descendants, a community which often thrived despite persistent racism and environmental pollution.

In 1860, a ship called the Clotilda was smuggled through the Alabama Gulf Coast, carrying the last group of enslaved people ever brought to the U.S. from West Africa. Five years later, the shipmates were emancipated, but they had no way of getting back home. Instead they created their own community outside the city of Mobile, where they spoke Yoruba and appointed their own leaders, a story chronicled in Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon.

That community, Africatown, has endured to the present day, and many of the community residents are the shipmates’ direct descendants. After many decades of neglect and a Jim Crow legal system that targeted the area for industrialization, the community is struggling to survive. Many community members believe the pollution from the heavy industry surrounding their homes has caused a cancer epidemic among residents, and companies are eyeing even more land for development.

At the same time, after the discovery of the remains of the Clotilda in the riverbed nearby, a renewed effort is underway to create a living memorial to the community and the lives of the slaves who founded it.”

[Recorded on February 22, 2024.]

History Camp Authors

    America's Summer Roadtrip 2020

      Nick Tabor is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Republic, Smithsonian, and New York Magazine, where he was on the editorial staff for several years. He served as a consultant on the documentary Descendant, which was presented on Netflix in 2022 by Barack and Michele Obama’s production company. Africatown is his first book.

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