With the discovery of the Clotilda earlier this year -- the last known slave ship in the U.S. -- the Africatown community is trying to get organized for what's next.
How to best feature the tale of American slavery was the focus of a community meeting Thursday night.
Locals with a deep connection are now focused on telling the full story. MOVE Community Development Corporation is launching the Africatown International Design Idea Competition -- employing ideas from 143 architectural schools all over the country and beyond.
"I see the competition as being an opportunity to present design ideas for 16 sits throughout Africatown that will connect at least three cities -- Prichard, Chickasaw, and Mobile... so that they will be a cultural heritage destination," explained Renee Kemp-Rotan, Architect/Professional Competition Advisor.
The competition will collect design ideas on four sites throughout Africatown -- each site containing four buildings.
Site #1: The Welcome Center at the Cemetery
-- 30 new prototype houses (new construction on vacant lots)
Site #2: Josephine Allen Site
-- (40 acres publically owned land)
-- design a boat house for full scale replica of Clotilda
-- design an unusual way for visitors to see the boat
-- underwater sculptures of descendants who perished while making the journey overseas
-- mixed income residential
Site #3: Blue Ways Site
-- Africatown Yacht Club
-- Water-based Tourist Transit
-- Water-edged Pavilions
-- Gateway 3
Site #4: Africatown Park USA:
-- (160 acres of publically owned land)
-- Benin House/African Museum
-- Spa Hotel/Convention Center
-- Center for Environmental Workforce
-- Gateway to Ancestors
They hope to connect it all through a unique user-experience for the visitors coming to see the Clotilda.
"It will be a landing pad for all the thousands of visitors that will be coming to the Clotilda from all over the world. To tell the entire story," said Kemp-Rotan.
A big part of telling that story will be the descendants of slaves on the Clotilda -- giving them a first-class landmark they can share with the rest of the world.
"It's impressive. I would like to see it come to fruition," said Vernetta Henson, had relatives on the Clotilda.
Giving them a first-class landmark -- they can share with the rest of the world.
"If the community is behind it. You know it takes a village. Basically to build something of this enormity -- so we are hoping the competition will serve as an advocacy tool that will really employ the community and civic leaders to decide on what they want Africatown to look like," said Kemp-Rotan.
MOVE Community Development Corporation plans to officially launch the competition on its website September 19th.
April 2020: a design committee consisting of 16 jurors (8 locals, and 8 architects and historians from around the country) will judge the submissions.
June 2020: make their recommendations
The winners can receive a cash prize of up to $25,000.