The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning
by Ben Raines
Hardcover- $26.00

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  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 06/11/22

 
  "This book about the personal life and times of a former slave is told very well." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 04/01/23

This book closely follows the life of Cudjo Lewis, the last surviving slave captured, transported and enslaved, from Benin, Africa. His life, his ambitions, trials, successes and tragedies, along with his memories of others on the Clotilda, is explored. The atmosphere that existed then, the abuses and racism, ostracism and murder, even after slavery was abolished, is brought to the light of day. In the book “Barracoon”, Nora Neale Hurston also immortalizes Cudjo, a man brought against his will to America, with so many others. Each yearned to return to Africa, but knew it would be impossible. They were all captured and sold by other African tribes, then their villages were destroyed. The cost to return and start again was impossibly prohibitive and entirely unfeasible.

Purchased by Timothy Meaher, to work his plantation, they were trapped and helpless. He got away with his crimes against humanity, even though they were acknowledged. After the the slaves were freed, the Clotilda slaves started Africatown, a thriving, self-sufficient community with schools, businesses and happy residents. Progress, if you can call it that, eventually destroyed the town, with the help of the Meahers, who, fearful of prosecution for their crimes had tried to destroy the evidence, first by burning the Clotilda and later, sinking the remains. Eventually, the Meaher sons were responsible for bulldozing the town to make way for change and continue to hide their past crimes.

Helping to destroy Africatown, was a road that divided it, a train that traversed it, and the exodus of its young, because it offered no future, but while the town died, the terrible journey for the Clotilda survivors lives on as it is exposed and remembered on these pages, by Ben Raines, and it cannot be erased from the pages of history.

Importing slaves from Africa was illegal, but Meaher, a wealthy, powerful Alabaman, still commissioned a crew and ship to bring human cargo from Africa, to his home in Alabama, to work on his plantation. He was very much a believer in, and a supporter of slavery. The Clotilda was the last known slave ship, and this book follows the course of its journey and the victims of its crimes. It clearly defines and illustrates the heinous and blemished history of that time.

The narrative uses the language of the slaves, in the voice of Cudjo, which lends authenticity to the descriptive terms that are used, even using terms we consider slurs today, that were frequently used then. It might feel offensive to some readers.

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