The History of their Story

Historical Roots Of AfricaTown Church - AfricaTown, Alabama

Cudjoe Lewis of AfricaTown

After dey free us, you understand me, we so glad, we make de drum and beat it lak in de Affica soil.

– Cudjoe Lewis

Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis, known as Cudjoe Lewis, lived from 1840 to 1935, making him a notable historical figure. He holds a unique distinction as the last documented survivor of the transatlantic slave trade between Africa and the United States. Lewis’s journey began in 1860 when he and 115 others were illegally transported aboard the Clotilda, a ship commissioned by Alabama planters seeking to circumvent abolition laws.

The Clotilda’s significance lays in being the last documented vessel to bring enslaved Africans to the United States, despite international abolition efforts dating back to 1807. Upon arrival in Mobile, Alabama, Lewis and his fellow captives were unlawfully sold into slavery. Despite this harrowing beginning, Lewis and others eventually settled in Africatown, Alabama, a community founded by former Clotilda captives, where they preserved their cultural heritage.

Cudjoe Lewis’s story serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of slavery and the resilience of the human spirit. His experiences offer valuable insights into the complexities of American history and the lasting effects of slavery on society. Lewis’s status as the final survivor of the transatlantic slave trade underscores his importance as a symbol of perseverance and resilience in the face of hardship.