Who We Are

Teach Africatown is the educational component of Project 110, a multimedia initiative by a team of university professors and researchers. We seek to honor the lives and legacies of the 110 survivors of Clotilda, the last known slave ship to traffic Africans to the United States. Teach Africatown is committed to humanizing enslaved people by recounting their experiences before, during, and after enslavement.

We offer lesson plans, implementation guides, and professional development sessions. Explore the tabs on the menu to learn more about our work.

The Teach Africatown team includes:

Dr. Joe’l Lewis Billingsley, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement & Associate Professor of Instructional Design, University of South Alabama

Ryan Noble, Assistant Professor of Visual and Performing Arts, Spring Hill College

Aaryan Morrison, MSc in African Studies Candidate, University of Oxford

Dr. Robert Gray, Associate Professor of University Pedagogy, University of Bergen

Marlena Lewis, Instructor of Social Studies, Escambia County Public Schools

Dr. Angelia L. Bendolph, President, CEB Consulting Solutions, LLC

Dr. Kern Jackson, Director of the African American Studies Program & Associate Professor of English, University of South Alabama

Why Teach Africatown

In 1860–more than 50 years after it became illegal for Africans to be trafficked to the United States and on the eve of the American Civil War–110 people between the ages of 2 and 25 years old were forcibly deported from the West African kingdom of Dahomey to Mobile, Alabama. After being subjected to five years of enslavement, a group of the survivors reunited on the outskirts of Mobile’s city limits to establish a community they called Africatown. Africatown is a lasting reminder of the home from which they had been taken and a monument to the resolve and resilience through which they would rebuild their lives in the United States.

Recovering Humanity

To teach about Africatown is to teach about the trauma, triumph, suffering, resistance, resilience, and multifacetedness of Black life in the United States. In a culture, country, and world that dehumanizes Black folks, this is an opportunity to show the humanity of enslaved people. The stories of the 110 Clotilda shipmates illuminate the experiences of the more than 12 millions Africans who were kidnapped, deported, trafficked, enslaved in the Americas before them. The stories of the founders of Africatown open a gateway to understanding the experiences of the millions of emancipated Black people who, after the fall of the Confederacy, relied on one another to create completely new lives for themselves.

Living History

Teaching Africatown also provides unique insight into the processes through which history is created, remembered, suppressed, and memorialized. The relative recency of Clotilda‘s voyage means that there is an unprecedented amount of source material about the events which it caused, from the perspectives of both the Africans who were trafficked and enslaved and the enslavers responsible for it all. Even today, griots, historians, filmmakers, journalists, and archeologists are putting together these sources and conducting original research to reveal new information about the community’s history. Teachers should invite residents of Africatown and descendants of Clotilda survivors to their classrooms so that their students can engage with living history; teaching Africatown is also an opportunity to center the voices, stories, and dreams of a descendant community to keep Africatown’s history alive. 


Finally, but most importantly, to teach about Africatown is also to advance justice, both in your classroom and in the world beyond. The experiences and perspectives of Clotilda descendants and Africatown residents show how history impacts people in the present, that history is something that people live with today. Teaching your students to uplift, care for, and stand alongside the community of Africatown will support them learning, serving and advocating for other marginalized communities.

Our Statement on Teaching Hard Histories

In The News

Teaching local educators how to Teach Africatown | NBC 15

Monday, July 10, 2023

An organization made up of local and international educators is providing local teachers with the tools to teach the story of Africatown.