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tv   Clotilda Slave Ship Descendants Reunion  CSPAN  May 24, 2020 6:48pm-7:31pm EDT

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means it will not look good because they have to maintain it. it will be well-kept for the community to enjoy. that is i think the plus side of that. go north, we run into we delta, and that is where found the clotilda. >> this was the first of a two-part tour of mobile, alabama. you can watch this at c-span.org /history. day after our african-american heritage tour with eric finley, we returned to
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the mobile county training school in africa town to record parts of the spirits of our ancestors festival. we spoke with organizer joyce linde davis. >> the spirit of our ancestors festival is a day to set aside to commemorate the descendents of the clotilda. various festivals that started back in the 1980's from the original founders of the descendents association, and i guess it stopped for a while, so i decided to start it up again. reading the book, the flagship clotilda and the makers of africa town. that is how i came up with the title. i was looking for a title, but you know, a lot of things were not ringing a bell.
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when i was reading her book, i was like state of our ancestors just jumped at me. >> you greeted everyone and there was a point where you had descendents speak. how did you come up with your program? >> well, growing up here in theca town and attending missionary baptist church, there was a bust of cudgel lewis in front of our church all of my life, and back into thousand two, that bus was destroyed -- bust was destroyed by some kids acting up, and they decided to vandalize, and later, they put thishistorical marker, and historical marker had the founders of union baptist church, and there were several names on there, and growing up, i always heard about cudgel lewis, but not the others. i was like that is pretty interesting that there were these other founders, so i asked
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around the church. i knew that there were other descendents. i asked around and i wanted to hear more stories about their ancestors. so when i decided to form this program, i wanted them to share their stories. everyone. my name is claudia. i am so blessed. thank you so much for asking me to speak here. was one of the founders of africa town. he was one of many young africans who were snatched from their homeland and forcibly brought over on the side. he was very knowledgeable in roots so when anyone got, you know -- they called on him because he knew exactly what route for what ailment. i could go on and on, but what i want to touch faces on, speak to
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the young people, is that we are the voice of keeby. about his to joyce voice getting lost but his voice is not lost. i am his voice. every keeby sitting here is his voice. we are the seeds of asa. we have greatness in us. can you imagine what it was like for him to be brought from his homeland and taken to a strange land and having to start all over and start from nothing? it took courage. championship, and that is the heritage that we have in our bloodline. it is a blessing to have that blood flowing through your veins. there is nothing that you cannot achieve. there is nothing that you cannot do. anything that you want to be, you can be that because he did that, and it is your heritage to move forward. before i leave the stage, i want
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to read a poem i wrote some years back entitled "who do you say i am?" i feel that it is so fitting. slave girl, property of man, who was brought in -- bought and took from the motherland. told i was nothing, could be no more, sold on the auction block. my words no more than a few shiny coins. shackles not only around my neck, hands, and feet, also branded on my mind, the words feet. -- defeat. could not run, could not hide, or the whip to my backside. far from, misplaced home. who do i say i am? a descendent from kings and queens. man royalty, property of no . i am an inventor, a lecturer, a
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builder, a warrior. i inspire. i am striving in reaching all i can be. my worth is beyond the most valuable jewel. it cannot be priced. no longer bound by perimeters set for me to hinder me, the price has been paid. remaineden, am, and set free. that is what asa did. he remained set free. thank you. [applause] >> do we have anyone from another family who would like to speak? anyone from the lee or marshall family that would like to speak? >> good morning, y'all. how you doing? myself like to introduce as the great, great, great,
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great, great grandchild of -- fou the great, great times r -- grandmother is the daughter of eugenia barnes. finding out that i was a direct descendent of charlie lewis, i was shocked. what millennial can actually specifically tell you who their ancestors were and also where they came from? nobody ever told me. for this to happen i think is a major blessing. the discovery of the clotilda is a real mark of world history. my uncle was blessed with the opportunity to tell his story. the world cannot get a more in-depth look into these horrible things that our people went through. kids and young adults should be more enlightened. we have proof of the details of many things so no one can doubt anything.
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this discovery and story should be put in all history books from kindergarten to high school, taught on college campuses. the thing about how my ancestors felt when they were brought over to this country, having to drink water and vinegar to prevent scurvy. hear how they tried to go home but they did not let them. it still crosses my spirit -- crushes my spirit. africa town, my home. my people endured through whatever the devil put upon them. it motivated people harder. none of this would have came about and i think you both so much for finally putting everything out there for our ancestors in mobile and for the world. you'll have built the strengths of this family back to where it is supposed to be. because they proud are finally being recognized.
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accomplishing the things we accomplished. i know that makes them all proud. growing up, i know i smoked well, i was ranked the number one in high school in georgia, number four from the nation. i just graduated from college at alabama state university. i just got me -- on wednesday morning, and am currently attending grad school. let me tell y'all something. i am my ancestors wildest dream. [applause] >> i am of course -- james and -- are passage.l read a i want to make it clear that
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lottie was the shipmate. james was not. james had been born in charleston, south carolina, but he was owned by the mayor. when the shipmates arrived in byile, lottie was purchased the mayor. he saw that the two of them were married and we do believe it was because he wanted to increase the slave holdings. he was not very successful in that. one of james and lottie's children survived. i think she was such a special person. often times, in africa, women but there hub" spends were -- husbands were the breadwinners and took care of the majority of the family's expenses, but in this case, lottie was an equal partner with her husband. they were very entrepreneurial. they owned a farm within the city, and unlike most people
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will, probably because james wanted to maintain his independence, they moved down the bay. they never lived in africa town, and for that reason, sometimes, people seem to forget that we are descendents, but we are here today to say we are, and we are pleased to be, and unfortunately, we had to talk today because we do not have younger offspring. bobby has children. i never had any. that could be here to make the presentation. >> greetings. we want to read you a small package from the book, dreams of africa cane alabama, by james dennison. he led a truly unique life. he had been among the minority of skilled foreign. a gifted boat pilot, it would be runaway, a soldier in the union
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army, and finally, the owner of a dairy farm at a time when there were only a handful of black-owned businesses of this type in the country. just as important, he had been part of african-american history. he had put his money in the man'san's bank -- freed bank, part of the mutual aid association of birmingham. he had fought along with thousands of other black veterans. he had been a participant in the first reparations movement. james had also been involved in the african story from the very beginning and had chosen to tie his life to theirs while still maintaining independence. even though he never lived in buried inn, he was the africans graveyard. thank you.
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[applause] >> i am my ancestors wildest dream. first, i would like to thank the most high for this infrequent opportunity to stand before royalty and greatness, in which whom we are the descendents. pardon me, let me rephrase that. of which descendents we know today as africa town. god is god, and god be the glory.
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second, i would like to think -- for inviting me to speak, and to this marvelous committee and organizer of this historical and international occasion. homage to our guests, ando our all of the freedom fighters that came before us, i am my ancestors wildest dream. i fell through the deep seas of that i am a to find -- the world's tallest tree. i am -- a visionary entrepreneur
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. i am a doctor, and love is my cure. to the depths of greatness and am myhing in between, i ancestors wildest dream. only strong as its weakest link. me, my team, police, on the boat with no hope. but that ain't the story to be told. bold as the silhouette shines ,rom the shadow of the sun zion, zion, zion, as my people cry for the land to open its hands. even a dying man has a plan to live.
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it a street. some call it an avenue. little did i know, 110 blowing in the wind was part of this crew. mysteries, will never change our history, as it seems. that is why i am my ancestors wildest dream. as i -- the river of hate, and to a training school, just to , anniefew, my mother perle, my father, clarence andrd, billy williams, -- the whole -- with it, family. , big, bold coleman,
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marshall. just a kid playing at a park. you see what they did. they taught us to put our feet in the mud, hand in the sand. no man can stand without a plan. all just to heal. the lord be my shield, and watch what it brings. ancestors wildest dream. thank you. [applause] sharing withderful us the depths of their thoughts about seeing their ancestors.
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share another round of applause. thank you so much. >> there is a point in the program where you allowed senator doug jones to speak, but you said briefly -- [applause] -- [laughter] >> can you tell us how that happened? >> putting a program together, because i had it together, and then i got an email from his office saying he wants speak, so i had to try to give him time. so they told me he wanted to speak, so he will speak briefly because i was on a time schedule. i did not want to lose my audience. soanted him to speak briefly it could flow. >> to doug jones to speak briefly. thank you. [applause] well, i got that message. briefly. i get that. no problem. i will be brief. [laughter] all fort to thank you
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coming here today and letting me just come up for a moment. i am so honored to be here. it was very important for me to come here today to honor and have this opportunity really to recognize the legacy of the clotilda and the descendents from the clotilda. our officexciting in and around the state and around the country, the word of the clotilda's find, that researchers confirmed that wreckage. i will give a quick shout out to my friend who was bringing this to everyone's attention early on that helped really i think for most the search that went through here. we are here today because of 150 years ago or more, in 1860, 110 men, women, and children were brought here illegally into the united states. that ship was burned in order to
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hide the evidence of the horrible crimes that took place. many here today are the proud descendents of those 110 men and women and children, and i cannot tell you how proud i am to be here. i cannot tell you how important this is. those descendents, but also for africa town as a whole. clotildae with the descendents association and a number of other community organizers who have worked so hard to bring this to the community and its historical significance, you know, these organizations today embody the strength and resilience, the spirit of those who have taken this country by force, for the clotilda and so many other ships , to build a strong community that we see here in africa town. you know, trying to do what i can on a more national level to bring attention to this because it is such an important message.
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it is such an important symbol of the tragedies of america but soo the triumphs of america, we are working to ensure that the historical significance is recognized, and that resources are dedicated to serving and protecting the clotilda and all of the historical sites in africa town. last year, we were able to get point $5 million to the smithsonian institution to support excavation, education. thank you. we have expanded the eligibility for civil rights grants under the historic preservation fund to make sure that on an ongoing basis, that we have enough money in that. that includes recently sides of the transatlantic slave trade. this opens the door for millions of dollars in potential funding for clotilda related projects. i introduced a resolution on the floor of the united states senate. i hope you will go on the website and take a look at it,
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to memorialize the clotilda's discovery and spoke about it on the senate floor. that resolution said something i want to emphasize today, the discovery of the ship should be seen as an inflection point for meaningful conversation, not but about past injustices, the injustices that continued today. we all know that they are there. [applause] jones: like all of you, like all of you, i am inspired by the strength and resilience of this community. i am honored to help bring the message of the clotilda and africa to the national stage. if there is one thing i want to make sure that we do, i want to make sure that all of the money, all of the shrines, all that we clotildaegards to the stay right here in africa town. thank you all again for letting
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me come down for a few moments. i really appreciate it. thank you. thank you. thank you. i will be here. [applause] >> tell us about the keynote speaker that day back in february. >> dr. deborah plant. that was amazing. the second year, we have dr. deborah plant. booksthors have written on the survivors of africa town, the survivors of the clotilda. that book came out in 2017, i believe, and great book. after 80 years, it was being published. they did not want to publish it. edited it.t --
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we were excited. to have dr. deborah plant. and tookhey put them them across the passage, after 67 years in alabama, he lost his mother tongue. so, what i like to remind they say it is in his dialect and that is one of the reasons the book was not published initially in 1931. the publicist said, you know, we we want himry, but to write it in a language rather than dialect. that means a lot of things and we do not have that kind of time. all,ce it to say, first of abouthey say -- talking
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what they called, you know, -- but that is really the -- of the establishment. they don't want to hear it in his language. but it is his story. why should it be in another language? my the thing about it, in opinion, is that this language she wroteote in -- it, she transcribed it, you know, in the way he spoke. ethnographer, and ethnographers no that -- know that language is an identifying future of any person, any group, any people. you do not change that. when you change the language, you change everything. whenhing about it is that
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he was taken, he was 19 years old. he spoke some form of -- the question becomes, how did this young man at 19 years old, speaking some variation of yoruba, winds up in alabama speaking a vernacular with an alabama accent? they did not speak that in west africa. the question is what happens to him that this is now a language that he speaks? everything that happens to him is encoded in that language. they publish that, read it, be forced to read something that was not what they are used to hearing. they want to change it. so they can access it rather so theynging themselves
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can access what he was talking about. >> are you descended from cudgel lewis? >> i am the descendent of charlie lewis. >> who was charlie lewis? joycelyn: charlie lewis was one of the older survivors of the clotilda. of twonge from the age to 24 so he was one of the older ones, chief of a tribe. colonelnslaved by thomas beaufort, and charlie lewis bought land from colonel thomas before it in 1870 and we in 1870 and we call it lewis's quarter. >> there were displays and tables at the festival. what was that, how did you come up with that idea? joycelyn: i wanted people to, when they walk around, i wanted
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them to get information from all of the descendents, so i wanted to make it informational when people walk around. i want to get information. tell me about your display here. >> ok. we can start from the beginning and bring it all the way down. was wedgel, what we did started with the -- cudgel, we put his history down here. we had the clotilda ship. we had different books about him. when we got to hear, we wanted with him, hisive history, so we started the generation of our bloodline, to his oldestl, son, and we took it down to the third generation.
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then we took it to my dad. he is the fourth generation. we got his oldest son's bloodline, to tell different things about them, and so -- >> could you back up a minute and tell us who was cudgel lewis? >> he was the last known surviving slave on the clotilda ship, so he survived all the other slayers. when the slave ship came in, they had the slaves on the ship and told them to be quiet. quiet.d to be it was illegal to bring them in. when they got to the ship and was searching, they did not see nobody, so they let them go. he firstpoint is where stepped. when they got him off the ship,
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they burnt the ship up. that is how he ended up in there. on, it goes toes my dad, johnny, right here. he would tell a story about cudjoe because he was raised by cudjoe the first 14 years of his life. he had a chance to know a lot about him and he would send him down and make sure we received everything he said. the name of the ship was the clotilda. lewisranddaddy was cudjoe -- great granddaddy was cudjoe lewis p talk with an accent, the same way cudjoe talk. when we read the book, it is everything he said, so we read the book, it had the words the way my dad was telling us. all of that together. had wasnt that cudjoe
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the same that my dad had. is this my daddy? >> do you think he had a little bit of his accident? >> my dad would talk to us like he would say -- look at the birdie, like that. that. you not to eat when he died, johnny went on in the navy. he was in world war ii. johnny untilfind he was in the bottom of the ship . they found johnny in the bottom of the ship. when they brought him back, that is how he got a discharge from the navy. he came back to magazine point.
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and is when he married -- started the fifth generation. the fifth generation of johnny lewis, all these were the fifth generation of him. this was my older sister. this is me. school,pened is this she was going to this school when it was a school. the school right here. it was a high school. when he did that, the high school, she ended up being the fifth generation. we did that. .e take it all the way down two of them were missing. they replaced it with this one. somebody sold this one and they replaced it with this one right here. so we are trying to bring our new generation in, and we bring changed sor family
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we can teach them our generation, so we got this. they made it. they were carving it out here. what they did was we designed it that way we wanted it. slashes on the side, representing his siblings he left behind. when he came here, he had no siblings. they did that. training hents the had in africa at 14 years old to be a policeman who guards his village and stuff. that, the mask represents the tribe he was in, and all of this is our family crest. this never changed. only the color changed. we always keep it. they know everything so they can learn about his religion,
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mobile, magazine point, his name, history, his slave and his african name. so part of us. >> what are some of the other stories they told you about cudjoe when you were growing up? >> he used to stand up. he would stand with my dad. he said, johnny, look at that. that.d i never saw a car would come by. that is how he would talk to him about a car but my dad would was on thedjoe porch. he would think about the old days. it was just him hollering. he would jump. he hollered so loud.
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he told them, the oldest people told him he was thinking about the clotilda when he came over. has it meant for the descendents of the clotilda that the ship has been located? >> everyone has their own personal opinions of how they feel. i just remember when we first thought we found the ship and it wasn't, and i saw that everyone was, you know, well, it's not the ship. you know, let's carry on, but i was thinking, well, it is not so much about the ship. it is about the people who were on the ship. that was my main focus. i am glad they found the ship. what does it mean for you to be a descendent of the clotilda? joycelyn: i am very proud.
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again,ry proud, and talking about the book that the -- thatwrote, and also was the first book written in 19 for being. reading those books and learning more and more and more about my ancestors, it's making me very proud. to me, it is the resilience of those survivors, coming to a place unknown, building a church, a school, and forming a community. that theyat strength had. you know, i try not to look at -- it is a sad story, but i want to highlight the things that they did, buying land from his in slaver -- enslaver. he bought land and they laughed at him.
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why would i give you land upon my land? charles lee was able to buy the land from his and slave -- ens laver. to william foster as a gift. he was royalty. those are some things i want people to know about. it global make because this story is amazing. recognizeso like to ac/dc, not to be confused with the rock group, the africatown community development corporation. i would like to thank the
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legendary leon jones. is under the leadership of jones. this organization keeps the community clean. they have a beautiful community garden. any given saturday, you will see him patrolling the area and keeping the yard clean. >> my hat is my claim to fame. 1969.rk mets in you know, you comply for 15 years in the big leagues, and then you are only known for one thing, winning the world series. that is my claim to fame. this community, and that is why we work each and every day to try to make sure we advance this community. my family was not of the clotilda, but we have been in
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and area since the 1850's, i take great pride and ownership of the place we call africatown today and i am proud to be here to celebrate. a lot of good things happen in the community now. quite a community across this country, similar in nature to africatown, but they no longer exist, so what we are trying to do is keep hope alive we put there that history out there and let everybody know what africatown is about and what it meant for this country. being a community of over 12,000 people, when i came up in this
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we are down to 2000. it is incumbent on people like and others to try to save our churches, schools, and our community at large. not, spur our growth, whether it be the housing market, job market, and make sure that we give people a comee to come back home, back and help grow this community so we can live the legacy that this community really offers. descendents many are there and about how many of those came to your festival? a sign inwell, we had
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list. i am just going to give or take 100. >> do you know how many descendents there are sort of spread around the world? joycelyn: that is something we are working on. that is something we are working on. a show calledas finding your roots. drummer forwith the traced hist love roots back to africatown, that we come from the same lineage. that is a descendent i would like to connect with as well. aboutpeople want to know the descendents, is there a website or place they should go? www.the: there is, clotildastory.com. >> morrill day on american
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history tv, featuring 24 hours of american history from the civil war to vietnam. nations past, beginning at 8:00 a.m. eastern c-span3.al day here on >> 14,226 americans are buried outside a quiet village in northeastern france at the meuse-argonne american cemetery. american history tv visited there with a french battlefield guide and a historian to learn about the 47 day world war i battle that ended with the armistice on november 11, 1918, and resulted in over 26,000 american deaths. >> so there are more than 14,200 graves here, many

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