American Roundtable: "If We Can Save the Ship, We Can Save the Town," Africatown, Alabama
American Roundtable is an Architectural League initiative, bringing together on-the-ground perspectives on the condition of American communities and what they need to thrive going forward.
Africatown is a small community outside of Mobile, Alabama, founded by emancipated Africans who had been illegally trafficked to the United States by slave-traders in 1860 aboard the ship Clotilda. If We Can Save the Ship, We Can Save the Town tells the story of this community’s ongoing fight, now catalyzed by the recent archaeological discovery of the Clotilda, to reclaim its history and revitalize its future. The report asks: Can a community use history, culture, and tourism to create equitable, sustainable development for the benefit of residents? How has the built environment contributed to Africatown’s struggles with endemic poverty, isolation, encroaching industry, and lack of services? What opportunities exist through design and planning to give new agency to this unique and resilient community?
Join report editors Renee Kemp-Rotan and Vickii Howell; Africatown resident Ruth Ballard; Kern Jackson, director of the African American studies program at the University of South Alabama; Darron Patterson, president, Clotilda Descendants Association; Deborah G. Plant, editor of Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”; Natalie S. Robertson, author, The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Making of AfricaTown, USA: Spirit of Our Ancestors; and Joe Womack, director, Africatown~C.H.E.S.S. as they discuss the American Roundtable report If We Can Save the Ship, We Can Save the Town.
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