Back in 2010, I joined the ongoing efforts of protecting, preserving and promoting the ENTIRE Africatown Community as a Cultural Heritage Destination. Since that time four things have happened that has propelled Africatown into the world’s spotlight:
1. The establishment of The Africatown Historic District and the placement of Africatown on The National Register of Historic Places.
2. The discovery of the slave ship Clotilda, the last known ship to bring enslaved Africans via the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade route to America and the construction of The Heritage House Museum to show some of The Clotilda’s pieces and tell The Africatown Story.
3. The world wide popularity of the Africatown Documentary “Descendant”
4. The recent AFRICATOWN/EPA/ADEM/COMMUNITY PARTNERS EJ Roundtable Discussions conducted the weekend of May 3, 2024.

While I had nothing to do with the first 2 items mentioned above, I did have a small part in the Descendant Documentary and I am proud to say that I was part of the Local, State, Regional and National Team that met over a ten month period and planned this event. This event held the weekend of May 3, 2024 placed Africatown at the top of America’s Environmental Justice watch list. Something like this has only happened once before back in 2000 in Spartanburg, S.C. with The ReGenesis Project where the community, business leaders, political leaders and government officials came together and agreed upon ways to improve the environmental conditions in Spartanburg and improve the quality of life for its residents. That project still continues today because something of this magnitude takes time to develop and is not completed overnight.


There were 40 organizations or individuals invited to attend the Friday’s roundtable discussions. They were: The Environmental Protection Agency, Alabama Dept. of Environmental Management, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Mobile Mayor  Sandy Stimpson, Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood, State Senator Vivian Figures, State Representative Adline Clark, Mobile City Councilman William Carroll, Africatown-CHESS, Africatown Heritage Preservation Foundation, Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition, Africatown Re-Development Corporation, The University of South Alabama, Mobile Bay Keepers, Alabama Coastal Foundation, University of Montevallo, Birmingham Southern College, Local Corps of Engineers, Mobile County FEMA, Mobile Environmental Representative, Mobile Resilience Officer, Mobile Chamber of Commerce, Mobile Black Chamber of Commerce, Alabama Dept. of Transportation, Mobile NAACP, Greater Birmingham Alliance to stop Pollution(GASP), Southern Environmental Law Center, Mobile Center for Fair Housing, Mobile Housing Board, Alabama State Docks/Port of Mobile, Clotilda Descendants Assoc., Africatown Community Development

Corporation, Africatown Business and Community Panel, Yorktown Baptist Church, Hopewell Baptist Church, Union Baptist Church, Pine Grove Church, Green Grove Church, Olivet Baptist Church and Mother of Mercy Catholic Church. It had been estimated that about 50 people would attend the very important Friday’s roundtable discussions however, a whopping 75 people showed up to find out what they can do to improve living conditions in Africatown.
A few of the most talked about areas of concern were:
– Finding out what is causing Africatown’s Historic Cemetery to collapse and how to fix it.
– A better understanding of how the different watersheds in Mobile affect flooding in Africatown.
– Establishing and funding a Community Land Bank.
– Finding out what land is polluted and how to clean it up.
– Determine who is polluting and how to put a stop to it.
– Establishing a Community Resilience Center in Africatown.
-The placement of air, water & soil monitors in Africatown.
– The construction of a Greenway throughout the entirety of Africatown.
– Ensure that the safety and sustainability of the ENTIRE Africatown Community is considered whenever business plans are made in and around The Africatown Community.

Friday’s roundtable discussions and break out sessions were very lively and could have lasted into the night. As the day wore on it became more and more apparent that we needed more than one day to talk about Africatown’s needs and concerns. The 3 day schedule was very well organized and planned out. However, it could have easily been a 4 or 5 day event had we known that the level of interest, concern and help would be this high. The schedule was organized in a way that those

from out of town could take a tour of Africatown on Thursday so that they would be aware of the layout of the land. All day Friday was reserved for a roundtable discussion and breakout sessions about the wants and needs of Africatown. Saturday was a half day session where the Africatown residents listened to a report to them about what was talked about during Friday’s sessions and allowed residents to express themselves about anything they wanted to say about Africatown.
The planners of this historic event all agreed that a follow-up event is needed. The right players were invited to attend and most of them attended with good intensions. Now is the time to capitalize on those good intensions and make something good happen for The ENTIRE Africatown Community today and in years to come.

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