Do you know Cudjoe Lewis?
Mr. Lewis was the last known survivor of the Atlantic slave trade between Africa and America. Lewis was born in 1841 in present day Benin apart of a tribe now known as the Yoruba tribe. At the age of 19 he was taken captive along with 115 others by the Kingdom of Dehomey and later sold to Captain William Foster of the Clotilda, a ship based in Mobile, Alabama and owned by Timothy Meaher.
Upon arriving in Mobile in 1860, Lewis was purchased by Meaher and worked as a deck hand on one of his steam boats until the end of the Civil War. After the Civil War, Lewis and others who were on the Clotilda attempted to work and raise money to return to their homeland. Due to insufficient funds they abandoned the plan of returning to Africa and because of Meaher’s refusal to grant them land, the group under the leadership of Lewis decided to purchase their own 2-acre plot.
At that point Africatown was established which is 3 miles north of Mobile. Since then the community thrived with businesses, a school, churches, and a cemetery. At its peak Africatown boasted a population of 12,000. The residents, for decades, spoke their native tongue, continued to practice their traditions, and it has been labeled one of the most unique African communities in America. The Africatown Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. Lewis died in 1935