Netflix releases “Descendant” documentary about Clotilda and Africatown community

A special screening will be shown for the first time in Mobile Saturday night, at the Saenger Theatre.
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 6:14 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A documentary that’s been three years in the making is making its debut this weekend.

“Descendant” tells the story of the slave ship, Clotilda, and its direct links to the Africatown community.

A special screening will be shown for the first time in Mobile Saturday night, at the Saenger Theatre.

Darron Patterson, a descendant, says his great-great-grandfather Cooper Lee was on the Clotilda all those years ago.

Now, to see this film finally come to fruition he says it brought tears to his eyes.

“Bring your emotions, bring your emotions. This is going to bring your emotions out,” Patterson said.

An emotional weekend for Patterson, as he’s been waiting years for this day.

The story of “Descendant” was released across Netflix platforms on Friday.

“Descendant” tells the story of the 110 enslaved Africans brought to the Mobile area aboard the Clotilda.

The last known slave ship to arrive in America.

A story that many people have known, but are finally getting to see.

“The story is now being told because the story’s been out there. Everybody knew about the story, yeah, but a lot of people tried to hide the story,” Patterson explained. “Clotilda’s been hiding in plain sight for 162 years. And now the world gets to see what we already know.”

The sunken Clotilda was discovered at the bottom of the Mobile Bay back in 2019.

To pay tribute to their ancestors aboard the ship, came the establishment of Africatown.

Patterson, who is one of those descendants, says he wants his great-great grandfather’s story to be told the right way.

“This is no joke. This is no joke. This story means the world to the community. Those people in the cargo hold of that ship were the best people you could have ever assembled, and they were young. They were teenagers, the youngest was two,” Patterson said.

As the story is shared across the nation Patterson says this is only the beginning.

“We’re going to make sure the world knows the story and the plight of the 110 souls that were on that cargo ship. They were remarkable people. They were resilient. They never broke,” he said.

A free screening of “Descendant” will take place Saturday evening at the Saenger Theatre at 7:30.

Tickets will also be available for purchase at the Crescent Theater starting Sunday.

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