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In May 2019, researchers confirmed the discovery of remains of the Clotilda, the last slave ship to enter the U.S., in Mobile Bay, Alabama. For the first time, descendants of those illegally smuggled on the Clotilda had evidence that their families’ stories were true. For years, locals had dismissed the story of the last slave ship as an old wives tale. In 1860, wealthy white businessman Timothy Meaher bet his friends he could bring over a hundred slaves despite the federal government’s ban on importing slaves. They succeeded and burned and scuttled the ship to destroy the evidence.

In the months that followed the discovery of the Clotilda, Vera Carothers traveled to Mobile, Alabama, to speak with descendants of the enslaved people illegally smuggled on the Clotilda. For 150 years, descendants have made their home in Africatown, one of the first freed Black settlements founded after the Civil War. Descendants of the Clotilda survivors have fought for centuries to preserve their origin story and heritage.

In this talk, you will learn about the untold history of the Clotilda survivors and the resilience of the community they founded in Africatown, Alabama. You will hear the voices and stories of people like Joycelyn Davis, whose great-great-grandfather was brought over on the Clotilda and who is seeking accountability from descendants of the Meaher family still living in the area today.

We will listen to excerpts from The New York Times-recommended podcast series Vera created from her reporting in Africatown and she will answer questions about the history and her reporting process.

Vera Carothers is a writer, producer, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. She wrote and produced “The Clotilda Series” a radio documentary that was recommended by The New York Times. Previously, she worked as an assistant producer at WNYC and traveled the country as a bilingual facilitator with the StoryCorps Mobile Tour. Her writing and reporting work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, NPR’s Latino USA, WNYC, and Slate. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, where she was a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Undergraduate Writing Program.

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