There are many cultures that are embedded in Mobile’s rich history, but perhaps the most revered are of the African American community. Figures of the American Civil Rights Movement like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Harriet Tubman are more internationally known, but other respected individuals also hail from Mobile. Black history in Mobile AL is rich in history.
Learning about Black History in Mobile Alabama is a unique experience, thanks to the Dora Franklin African American Heritage Trail. It is a carefully curated tour that encompasses the entire city, highlighting the notable people and events that culminate in the melting pot that we are today.
You can expect to learn more about the following focal points if you decide to go on this trail.
Also called Plateau, Africatown is a community first populated by 32 people on board the last illegal shipment of slaves from West Africa. 110-160 people were smuggled into Mobile even after the 1807 Act Prohibiting the Importation of Slaves was implemented.
These 32 people established a modest community where they retained their language and customs well into the 50s. Later generations learned how to adapt and incorporate English into their vocabulary.
The last slave ship called Clotilda reached Mobile Bay in the autumn of 1859, captained by William foster and owned by Tim Meaher. They burned the ship to cover up this illegal activity.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture partnered up with the Alabama Historical Commission to retrieve parts of Clotilda on the Slave Wrecks Project. Their goal is to humanize horrific events by recovering sunken memories. This is to illustrate the impact of these heinous crimes.
Civil Rights Advocates
John L. LeFlore
LeFlore served as a public activist for more than 50 years. He was a prominent figure in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Mobile. He worked with Vivian Malone to stop segregation at the University of Alabama.
Langan was only 27 when he won a seat in the Alabama House of Representatives. He helped improve the state voting laws and the promotion system of public employees.
Father Albert Foley
Fr. Foley taught “Migration, Immigration, and Race” and then later Sociology at Spring Hill College. Foley believed that segregation was sinful and started organizing activities, bringing white and African American students together.
He went on to criticize the inaction of the Church in matters of Racism and also took several actions to oppose the KKK.
The Emerson Institute
The Emerson Institute was a rural school that maintained around 200 African American students in the early 1900s. They designed a curriculum including vocational training to educate children amidst the repression during the Jim Crow era. During this time, the State spent ten times more on the education of white students.
Also Read: Weird things to do in Mobile AL
The Trials and Triumphs in Black History
Mobile is a setting for many historic sites that are extremely relevant not just to the African American community but our country at large. The Dora Franklin African American Heritage Trail is its attempt to expose the roots that brought about the diversity that we enjoy today.