Home Arts & Culture Visit Africatown Heritage House in Mobile, Alabama

Visit Africatown Heritage House in Mobile, Alabama

Just an hour from Pensacola in Mobile, Alabama is a museum that opened in July of 2023 and has recently earned national recognition — The Africatown Heritage House. The museum earned national recognition as one of USA TODAY’s “2024 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel award” for Best New Museum, as chosen by readers and website visitors.

Advertisement

A panel of industry experts, travel journalists and editors at USA TODAY chose Africatown Heritage House as one of 20 best new venues in the U.S. to represent what they consider to be the top museum openings of the past two years. The vote was open to the public to select the 10 best museums, with Africatown Heritage House earning the ninth spot!

Earlier this month, my family took a trip to Mobile to have lunch with a friend and to visit the Africatown Heritage House. The museum was established to document the plight of African slaves brought to the new world in 1860, a full 52 years after the United States had banned the transatlantic slave trade.

Driving the museum’s creation was the 2018 discovery of the Clotilda in the Mobile River. The very ship used in the 1860 voyage, it was burned and sank by the slave traders upon arrival to avoid discovery and potential prosecution.

Unlike others of African heritage, who had lived as slaves for generations, passengers of the Clotilda were here for only one year when that infamous shot was fired at Fort Sumter, and only 5 years before ratification of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery. This relatively short period of time allowed a significant number of them to regroup and form a community of their own, known to this day as Africatown where many of their African customs survived.

The museum is less about slavery in general and more about the transatlantic slave trade, and the effect it had not only on the American South, but also on the continent of Africa. European slave traders seldom if ever ventured into the bush themselves to capture potential slaves, but traded for prisoners that had already been captured in tribal warfare on the continent.

And what currency did they have with which to barter for these prisoners? Guns and ammo, of course, which further fueled this warfare and wreaked havoc on the African continent. The museum takes you on a journey of inhumane separation, abuse and violence, and how 110 survivors preserved to triumph and victory. As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, I highlight recommend a trip to the museum.

Museum hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday.  Admission is $15.00 for adults, $9.00 for Seniors and military (active and retired), and $8.00 for children (6-18). If you’re a history buff, allow 2 hours to peruse the stories and artifacts.

About the Exhibition:

Clotilda: The Exhibition covers the story of the Clotilda with a special focus on the people of the story – their individuality, their perseverance, and the extraordinary community they established. The exhibition tells the story of the 110 remarkable men, women and children, from their West African beginnings, to their enslavement, to their settlement of Africatown, and finally the discovery of the sunken schooner, all through a combination of interpretive text panels, documents, and artifacts. The pieces of the Clotilda that have been recovered from the site of the wreck are on display in the exhibition, on loan from the Alabama Historical Commission. The exhibition was curated, developed, and designed in conjunction with the local community and the wider descendent community, and in consultation with experts around the country.