African Town: Inspired by The True Story of the Last American Slave Ship

African Town: Inspired by The True Story of the Last American Slave Ship
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Release Date
January 04, 2022
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Chronicling the story of the last Africans brought illegally to America in 1860, African Town is a powerful and stunning novel-in-verse.

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In 1860, long after the United States outlawed the importation of enslaved laborers, 110 men, women and children from Benin and Nigeria were captured and brought to Mobile, Alabama aboard a ship called Clotilda. Their journey includes the savage Middle Passage and being hidden in the swamplands along the Alabama River before being secretly parceled out to various plantations, where they made desperate attempts to maintain both their culture and also fit into the place of captivity to which they'd been delivered. At the end of the Civil War, the survivors created a community for themselves they called African Town, which still exists to this day. Told in 14 distinct voices, including that of the ship that brought them to the American shores and the founder of African Town, this powerfully affecting historical novel-in-verse recreates a pivotal moment in US and world history, the impacts of which we still feel today.

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African Town
(Updated: March 20, 2023)
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What worked: Powerful free verse tale loosely based on the true story of the enslaved people on the ship Clotilda. Later, after the Civil War, these survivors ended up purchasing land that would be called African Town. This novel shares the story of those individuals who played a part in not only the capture of African citizens but the people who survived the grueling voyage to Alabama.

To start off this story is gut-wrenching with the portrayals of what the Clotilda enslaved people went through by being captured and then sold off. The journey over to Alabama is shown in grueling and inhumane descriptions only later for these people to suffer the humiliation of being auditioned off in a strange land.

The strength of this novel is the free verse format that makes it easy to follow along with the many different points of view. The story is very engrossing and haunting.

I loved the different points of view told throughout this story. Kossola begins by sharing where the story first starts in Bante, Africa, and how he is captured and later sold off with others. There's the point of view of rich businessman Timothy Meaher who makes a bet to sneak over African slaves into Alabama without being caught. Also, there is the point of view of the other captives and the ship itself.

Powerful, important historical based on a true part of history with not only its vivid depictions of the horror of slavery but the strength and hope of those taken against their wills to a foreign land. A must-read and a perfect addition to any school library.
Good Points
1. Powerful story of a historical event
2. Engrossing tale of enslaved people
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