Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Community of Africatown

I am always fascinated by the all Black communities African Americans have built over the years. It means that we are capable of coming together economically to build something of our own and have been doing so for some time now. Communities like Black Wall Street, Rosewood, Blackdom and Israel Hill are examples. To learn of more communities, visit a recent post 7 Black Communities that Prospered.

To add to that list, I’d like to talk today about Africa Town, a place I didn’t know about until it has recently made news after suing an industrial plant claiming it released toxic chemicals linked to cancer.

On this day, March 2, 1807, The U.S. Congress passed an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States…from any foreign kingdom, place, or country”, banning the Slave Trade. A group of slaveholders then, made a bet that they could still import slaves and could do so without being caught. 110 Africans (Israelites) from the Yoruba Tribe from the interior of Nigeria were taken and held captive aboard the Clotilda, allegedly the last slave ship to bring captives from Africa to America. Led by Timothy Meaher, a shipbuilder and landowner, the ship made it to the port of Alabama in July of 1860. The slaves were removed from the ship and put on a steam river boat and the Clotilda was burned to hide the evidence.

The enslaved were divided between the men who had made the bet but they eventually got caught. Federal Authorities prosecuted the men but the 1861 federal court case of US v. Byrnes Meaher, Timothy Meaher and John Dabey was thrown out because of lack of evidence. After the Civil War Meather freed his slaves and allowed them to work his property. This is the beginnings of the community of Africatown.

The city of Mobile’s Africatown Neighborhood Plan, a blueprint for revitalization and preservation prepared in 2015 and 2016, offers a quick summary of what came next for the community:

“Working in local shipyards and mills, they saved money to buy land including some from their former owners. African Town originally included a 50-acre community in the Plateau area and a smaller one, Lewis Quarters, which consisted of seven acres over a mile to the west of the larger settlement. Lewis Quarters was named after one of its founders, Charlie Lewis. The settlers appointed Peter Lee as their chief and established a governmental system based on African law.

The residents of African Town built the first school in the area. In 1872 they built Old Landmark Baptist Church, which is now Union Missionary Baptist Church. While the community retained much of their West African culture, construction of the church signaled the conversion to Christianity of many of the Africans. They were a tight-knit community known for sharing and helping one another but reportedly had tense relations with both whites and African Americans and so largely kept to themselves.”

Personally, I wish they had stuck with their West African Culture (which is largely Israelite Culture) as many West African Tribal Nations (such as the Yoruba, Congo, and Ashanti) still maintain the laws of the Old and New Testament apart from Christianity. After emancipation, the group reunited from various plantations, bought land, and founded Africatown. They ruled it according to ancient Biblical laws, spoke their own language and insisted on using their original names.

“A Press-Register reviewer wrote of Diouf’s findings: “The old interviews make abundantly clear that Lewis and his comrades were terrified and traumatized by their kidnapping and trans-Atlantic voyage. Their life in Alabama was very difficult, first for a few years as slaves and then in freedom. Not only did they have to contend with prejudice from whites, but their black neighbors considered them to be oddities who were crude, fierce and inscrutable.

Despite the challenges, Africatown’s story is too special to be lost. In fact, it recently was catapulted back to national attention via an unexpected connection on the PBS geneology show “Finding Your Roots.” In one episode the influential musician and author Amir “Questlove” Thompson learns that his personal family heritage includes an ancestor, Charles Lewis, who was taken aboard the Clotilda and became one of Africatown’s founders.

Where the Clotilda’s story ended, Africatown’s began

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis; the last known survivor of the Clotilda, the oldest slave on the ship and also a chief. Details of this interview has been compiled in a never-before-published work by Hurston by Amistad Publishing called Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo. (A Barracoon is a type of barracks used historically for the temporary confinement of slaves or criminals.) Another book about Africatown is Sylviane A. Diouf’s Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America. The book is the Winner of the 2007 Wesley-Logan Prize of the American Historical Association, the 2009 G. Sulzby Award of the Alabama Historical Association and a 2008 finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Today, Africatown is struggling with the new attention it’s getting from the discovery of pieces of the ship and the pollution to the air of what residents are saying is causing cancer. “Hosea O Weaver & Sons, an asphalt manufacturer, backs up on to some residents’ properties and is a business that has recently caused most concern. On days when trucks are leaving the plant, some have covers and some don’t have any. If you have a north wind the dust is everywhere,” said Varner. “It gets everywhere and you have to breathe it in.” (Christopher Harress)

Residents of Africatown see it as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, those companies provided jobs for the community and the town flourished economically. However, this also meant dealing with the noise and pollution. Though, according to one of the community’s leaders, environmental concerns are less of a worry now.

“Pollution has been an issue for over 100 years in Africatown, but at this particular time we’re moving to a more clean air environment because we lost some of the contributing forces, like the International Paper Company and all kinds of sawmills, and things of that nature,” said Cleon Jones, Africatown’s community leader and former New York Mets player. “We still have Kimberly Clark but they don’t process wood the way they used to. Our big fight has been against the oil companies, but I think that’s all in compliance now, according to the city and state. It’s always been about creating a buffer between our town and the companies, the noise, pollution, trucks.”


Meet and Greet: 11/3/17

Looking for more exposure? Danny’s hosting a Meet and Greet, stop through, say hi and leave your Link 🙂

Dream Big, Dream Often


It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!!  Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!  

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times!  It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want.  It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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Send Me Your Posts (If you like)

Hey Lovelies,

I am finally settled and have some much needed catching up to do. I don’t even want to look at my TBR pile but reviews will start trickling in here again pretty soon.

Instead of having to search all your wonderful blog posts, I thought I’d open the opportunity for you to share them with me. Help me to catch up with you by sending me your post links. Just comment on this post with a link to your most recent post or the one you’d like me to see. Now, I know Halloween just passed but I don’t do Holidays. I think I should put that on out there. I am not particularly interested in that but anything else you’ve been up to is cool. If you have a new book out, send me the link to that too so I can tweet you out. Just as long as you’re patient, I should be able to touch base with most of you (depending on how many links there are.) Let’s have some fun.

I look forward to seeing what you all have been up to in this crazy world we live in. Chat soon.




Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-yah) is an Author, Blogger, and Poet of nine published works including her soon-to-be released short inspirational guide “Keep Yourself Full.” Learn more by exploring Yecheilyah’s writing on this blog and her website at Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One) is her latest novel and is available now on


Chance The Rapper Partners with Lyft to Raise Funds to Support Chicago Public Schools

REPOST from Good Black News. Please click the link below for the original post.

The ride-share service Lyft announced Tuesday that passengers can now round up their fare to the next dollar and donate the difference to Chance the Rapper’s fund to support Chicago Public Schools. The New Chance Arts and Literature Fund, devoted to creating and expanding Chicago arts education programs, is the first local organization Lyft is supporting through the “round up and donate” feature.”

5 Ways Commenting on Other Blogs Can Help Your Blog to Grow

  • It Introduces You

When you comment on a post that interests you (or disinterests you) on other blogs, it introduces you to that blogger and everyone else who sees your comment. If they’ve been blogging awhile, rest assured they will click on your name and check out your blog (Do be sure your name is linked to your blog. Jason Cushman explains how to do so HERE.)

Here’s a screenshot of an example. Even though the name of my blog is Pearls Before Swine when I comment what shows up is my actual name and photo so that it is understood immediately who I am and what I look like (in real life). Click on my name and it will take you to my blog.

  • It’s a Reminder

I follow over 400 blogs over the course of the three years I’ve been blogging. There’s no way I can keep track of them all and I won’t pretend as if I do. I don’t like or comment on everyone’s post. It’s just impossible. Likewise, bloggers that follow me don’t get to see and interact with my every post. I’m not crying about it.

There is a way to remind others that you exist and it is by supporting their blogs.

When you drop a comment on someone’s blog they are reminded of your support and will undoubtedly want to return the favor. I’m not saying be fake with your commentary. I am saying that support begets support. When people I don’t know comment on my blog, I click on their profiles and visit their blogs. I may even decide to follow said blog. In most cases, I do.

  • It Connects You / Builds Genuine Relationships

Commenting in the world of the Internet is the same as being involved in a conversation. Commenting on other blogs helps you to make a connection with others. It’s good because you don’t just connect with the home blogger, you also connect with their followers. It’s a form of genuine relationship building. You may discover you write in the same genre, both are allergic to something, both love the same foods, colors, both love History, etc. You may even want to join the same groups. I have connected to many of you better because of you commenting on my posts. We have in turn followed each other’s blogs, joined the other’s email list, bought the other’s books, and know more about one another. All because of commenting on the other’s blog.

  • Adds Value / Authority

When you leave comments on other blogs, it helps to add value and authority to your blog via search engines by way of back-links, which generates traffic. Here is Backlinks explained by the Shout Me Loud Blog:

“Backlinks are incoming links to a web page. When a web-page links to any other page, it’s called a back-link. In the past, back-links were the major metric for the ranking of a web page. A page with a lot of back-links tended to rank higher on all major search engines, including Google. This is still true to a large extent. Here is a glossary of common terms related to back-links that you should know:

Link Juice: When a web page links to any of your articles or your website’s homepage, it passes “link juice”. This link juice helps with the ranking of the article, and also improves the domain authority.

  • More Subscribers

Commenting on other blogs brings more traffic to your site because of link juice and can lead to more subscribers. This is especially true if you leave detailed, well-thought out comments because it is a glimpse into the kind of content that can be found on your blog. Again, if the blogger is like me he/she will be inclined to click on your name (which you would have connected to your blog site) and check out your blog to discover more about you.

Combined these elements can help your blog to grow by:

  • Increasing Traffic / Views
  • Increasing Blog Subscribers

Before we go, make sure:

  • You don’t go around randomly commenting on people’s post after reading this. There is no right way or wrong way to blog but I have learned that such things as this must be genuine to work so don’t be fake, people can tell.
  • Your blog name is actually a name. Either your business name, Sara, Ann, Brandon, or Bob. Not 123_T or Princess_456.
  • Link your name with your blog so that when people click it this will take them to your blog. Learn how HERE.
  • Add an image to your gravatar. Preferably, a company logo or head-shot. I find human images better because it’s already difficult to trust people over the internet. Being transparent from the beginning by showing an updated image of your real self (Company Logos are good too) goes a long way. This is especially true if you’re an Independent Author. A brand tip is to make sure your author image and author name is the same across all your social platforms. I had to recently update mine so I am only saying this because I’m not very good at branding myself. I am working on it however and my first step was to go back through my social’s and ensure they all have the same image so that I am easy to find. I changed them all to the same picture and will also not keep changing them.
  • Make sure there’s a FOLLOW BUTTON on your blog so that when people are exploring and they like what they find they can follow you in the easiest and quickest way possible.

Note: The headline to this post has been changed to 5 Ways. When I first drafted it, I only had 4 ways. I’ve just went back over it and see there are five bullet points. I have not changed the link (which still says 4 ways) because this post has already been reblogged. Please excuse the miscount. 

REMINDER: I still need your Thunderclap support! Help me reach 100 Supporters before July 15th. It’s free, easy, and only takes a second. We’re almost there!

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Sundown Towns

“Is it true that ‘Anna’ stands for ‘Ain’t No Niggers Allowed’?” I asked at the convenience store in Anna, Illinois, where I had stopped to buy coffee. “Yes,” the clerk replied. “That’s sad, isn’t it,” she added, distancing herself from the policy. And she went on to assure me, “That all happened a long time ago.” “I understand [racial exclusion] is still going on?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “That’s sad.”—conversation with clerk, Anna, Illinois, October 2001. James W. Loewen, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (Touchstone, 2006),3

Anna, Illinois was named after the daughter of the founder of the town, but got its more derogatory name after the 1909 lynching of a black man in Cairo IL and the mob of angry white citizens who drove out Anna’s 40 or so black families following the lynching. It is at this point that Anna, IL became a sundown town.

A sundown town is a town with an exclusive population of non-whites on purpose. They are towns with overwhelming populations of non-whites and are so deliberately.

Historically, the name Sundown-town comes from Blacks not being allowed in certain towns beyond sunset and the signs that some towns posted within their city limits warning Blacks not to let the sun go down on them in that town (see pics).

Side Note: I wonder if that’s where the parental command to be in the house when the street lights came on, comes from? I’d have to explore that one.

Although signs were posted, forced exclusion was also implemented:

“There were also race riots in which white mobs attacked black neighborhoods, burning, looting, and killing. Across America, at least 50 towns, and probably many more than that, drove out their African American populations violently. At least 16 did so in Illinois alone. In the West, another 50 or more towns drove out their Chinese American populations. Many other sundown towns and suburbs used violence to keep out blacks or, sometimes, other minorities.” – America’s Black Holocaust Museum, James W. Loewen, PhD; Fran Kaplan, EdD; and Robert Smith, PhD

The Beginning

Sundown towns began after Slavery and the Civil War when blacks left the plantations and poured into every city and corner of the country. This was followed by the system we know as Jim Crow, in which black codes and laws were made for the intention of keeping blacks as enslaved as possible despite their free status.

Of course, we are familiar by now with the eyes that had to be kept to the ground, the stepping to the side when whites walked by, the separate restrooms and water fountains, movie theaters and many others. But in addition to all this were sundown towns, all-white neighborhoods where blacks were not allowed to live. Many of these towns existed in the North as the Great Migration brought floods of blacks into Northern Cities.


These communities feared the blacks pouring into their neighborhoods and established Sundown towns by evicting black residents and not allowing them in.


This statue of Orville Hubbard which sits outside of the City Hall in Dearborn Michigan, was the cause of much controversy when people started to learn more about his past.

Hubbard was the mayor of the then all-white suburban town outside of Detroit from 1942 to 1978 and in a 1969 speech acquired by the New York Times said that “If whites didn’t want to live with N–they sure didn’t have to.” He went on to say that this was a free country and that this was America.

“City police cars bore the slogan ‘Keep Dearborn Clean,’ which was a catch phrase meaning ‘Keep Dearborn White,’ ” according to David Good, a lifelong resident of the city who is the author of ‘‘Orvie: The Dictator of Dearborn,” a biography of Mayor Hubbard.

“Out here in Dearborn where some real Ku Klux Klans live. I know Dearborn, you know I’m from Detroit, used to live out there in Easten. And you had to go through Dearborn to get to Easten. Just like riding through Mississippi once you got to Dearborn.” -Malcolm X

Over time the name “Sundown-town” faded but Sundown Suburbs still exist. A sundown suburb is a discrete way in which Sundown-towns exist today. It is when large white populations migrate to the suburban part of the city with the express purpose of separating themselves from the minority population.

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Seneca Village

Got a short fun fact article for you today.

I love finding the hidden treasure of black communities that existed and thrived that we’ll never know about (until we look). I’ve mentioned several of such communities on this blog in the past and here’s another one.

Seneca Village was settled in the 1820s on the eve of Emancipation in New York. The only community of black property in the city at the time, it was located between 82nd and 87th Street east of what is Central Park today.


The Village was a thriving community of blacks (two-thirds) and whites started to settle there as well. The community had its own school and a population of over 250 people. Houses were also built on the land, some of them elaborate two-story with barns and others a bit more modest. This was an achievement because New York, like the rest of the country, was a place of slave-ownership. Contrary to what you’ll learn in school, the South was not the only place to find blacks who were enslaved but many northern cities did as well. In 1703, more than 42 percent of New York City households held slaves and slavery was a key institution in the development of New York. According to The New York Historical Society:

“As many as 20 percent of colonial New Yorkers were enslaved Africans. First Dutch and then English merchants built the city’s local economy largely around supplying ships for the trade in slaves and in what slaves produced – sugar, tobacco, indigo, coffee, chocolate, and ultimately, cotton. New York ship captains and merchants bought and sold slaves along the coast of Africa and in the taverns of their own city. Almost every businessman in 18th-century New York had a stake, at one time or another, in the traffic in human beings. During the colonial period, 41 percent of the city’s households had slaves, compared to 6 percent in Philadelphia and 2 percent in Boston. Only Charleston, South Carolina, rivaled New York in the extent to which slavery penetrated everyday life. To be sure, each slaveholding New Yorker usually owned only one or two persons.”

The only difference between Southern and Northern slavery was that instead of plantations, slaves in the North slept in cellars and attics or above farmhouse kitchens in the country. Nonetheless, the enslaved population of the city was emancipated in 1827 and many of these freedmen comprised the residents of Seneca Village.

The Village’s demise came with the building of what is now Central Park. The government claimed the land under the right of eminent domain and evicted the residents. Since then, Seneca Village has been pretty much forgotten in history. Well, until now.


Don’t forget, you can find all the Black History Fun Fact Articles

under the Black History Fun Fact page in the sidebar.

We are already 17 weeks in since the re-launch of this segment last October. Wow!