America’s Last Slave Ship Could Offer A Case For Reparations

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
slave ship
America’s last slave ship, discovered in Alabama earlier this year, could offer a case for reparations for African Americans. Traffic passes a mural of the slave ship Clotilda along Africatown Blvd. in Mobile, Alabama, May 30, 2019. Image: AP Photo/Kevin McGill, File

News that the last slave ship in the U.S. was discovered in Alabama in March this year gave hope to the cause of reparations for African Americans.

The Clotilda was located at the bottom of the Mobile River in Alabama, one year after the publication of author and filmmaker Zora Neale Hurston’s interview with the last living survivor of that ship. Just a month before the slave ship was found, a scholar discovered that The Clotilda’s last survivor had lived until 1937.

What the last slave ship could mean for reparations

Wealthy Alabama steamship owner, Timothy Meaher, financed the last slave vessel to bring African captives to the U.S. — leaving them free and destitute after the Civil War.

But the discovery of Clotilda could now offer one of the more clear-cut cases for slavery reparations, with identifiable perpetrators and victims, according to a Time report.

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Recent reparations debates for African Americans in the U.S. have opened a pandora’s box into one of the darkest times in its history: 250 years of Black enslavement, followed by a century of systematic housing, education and job discrimination that continues to affect people and communities to date.

“I think it would be equitable for them to make some payment to the descendants of the Clotilda cargo. What is right? I think we’re in a prime position to have our court system decide something,” said Bill Green, a descendant of Clotilda captive Ossa Keeby.