Africatown, AL (WKRG)
This is a day people who live around the Union Missionary Baptist Church have waited for a long time. It’s the unveiling and dedication of a bust dedicated to the life of Cudjoe Lewis. He’s the last known survivor of the last known slave ship to come to America in the 19th century. Previous versions of this bust have either been stolen or destroyed. It’s taken several months for members of the church to raise the money necessary to have the bust made. Many are very happy to see a new statue in place.
“[Cudjoe Lewis] was a great leader of this area, and community, that would probably be best,” said Cudjoe Lewis descendant Robert Lewis when I asked him what’s the best way this monument can commemorate Cudjoe Lewis. “Most people called him Uncle Cudjoe and it’s not because of blood relations it’s because of everyone’s attachment to him.” The monument is meant not only to commemorate the life of one man but the entire community that formed around the survivors of the Clotilde.
The sculpture sits out in front of Union Missionary Baptist Church. It’s a church founded by Clotilde survivors. Several descendants from the ship still attend church services there. Today was the 148th anniversary of the church. A special service was held with quilts adorning the walls. The quilts are meant to symbolize the poverty some in the community grew up in as blankets were all some had to keep warm and fend off illness according to church member Lorna Gail Woods.