Questlove, Charlie Lewis, and the Last Slave Ship

“The eyes” said the artist Questlove as he stared at the photo of his ancestor Charlie Lewis. “We have the same eyes.” Questlove had just discovered that Lewis had arrived in Mobile, Alabama in July of 1860 on the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to the United States. Lewis and another 110 young men and women had embarked at Ouidah (Benin). Enslaved for five years, as they recovered their freedom in 1865 some regrouped in northern Mobile and founded their own small town, known as African Town.

For more about Questlove finding his roots read this article in TIME.

The entire story of the group is recounted in the award-winning book Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America by Sylviane A. Diouf (Oxford University Press).

Charlie Lewis