Civic Design Center, NOMA Nashville Host National Feb. 25th Lecture About Black Space Matters in Creation of The Africatown International Design Idea
A Discussion on The Power of Design to Ignite Creative Placemaking Via a Series of 16 Monuments, Memorials & Interpretive Venues on 4 Sites tied to the Clotilda Slave Ship
By: M.O.V.E. Gulf Coast CDC
Renee Kemp Rotan, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, Master Planner, Urban Designer, and CEO of studio|rotan, is the featured speaker in the lecture entitled "Recognizing History: Africatown Design Competition."
Africatown residents put their dreams for their community in the 2016 Africatown Neighborhood Plan organized by the City of Mobile to guide future development. When word of the Clotilda's possible discovery first came in January 2018, M.O.V.E. Gulf Coast CDC sought ways to ensure the community could leverage interest in the slave ship to bring economic redevelopment resources into their struggling community.
To assist with these plans, studio|rotan initiated the Competition and helped M.O.V.E. CDC birth the idea of the Africatown Cultural Mile as a major tourism destination system that could create jobs and other economic opportunities for the community. The big idea is to design a series of monuments, memorials and interpretive sites that speak to the Clotilda story and American slavery along 10-miles of waterways that connect Historic Africatown in Mobile to Africatown USA State Park in the City of Prichard, another underserved area also in need of revitalization. The idea reaches across the Atlantic Ocean to include the Republic of Benin, where the Africatown story originates.
Writing a vision for a revitalized Africatown community is the driving purpose behind the Competition that Rotan was commissioned by M.O.V.E. CDC to professionally organize on Africatown's behalf. The community endorsed the Competition with a loud and enthusiastic "YES!" at a July 2019 public meeting.
"Our hope is that powerful, Afrofuturistic designs from world-class architectural teams will not only help inspire Africatown residents dream, but also plan for the future they want, using the Competition's catalogue of design ideas," says Rotan. "We want to arm them with tools to create the community they want, because their success can inspire regeneration of other under-served Black spaces that matter."
Register to watch the seminar at https://www.civicdesigncenter.org/
A Unique History
Africatown was founded shortly after the Civil War by emancipated Africans who had been captured and sold by the Kingdom of Dahomey (in modern-day Benin) to the captain of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to illegally import human cargo from Africa to the United States in 1860.
In 2019, the Alabama Historical Commission and its archaeological teams confirmed that remains of the Clotilda (which was burned and sunk to hide the act of piracy) had been discovered in a branch of the Mobile River Delta near Twelve Mile Island.
Learn more about The Africatown International Design Idea Competition at www.AfricatownDesign.com.