The family of the last U.S. slave ship’s financier, Timothy Meaher, has publicly broken their silence and called their actions “evil” and “unforgivable.”
According to U.S. News, descendants of the financier released a statement saying that his horrific actions on the eve of the Civil War “had consequences that have impacted generations of people.”
“Our family has been silent for too long on this matter. However, we are hopeful that we, the current generation of the Meaher family, can start a new chapter,” they said in the statement.
The Meaher family is still prominent around the Mobile, Alabama area, as their forefather owned the Clotilda steamship–the last American slave ship responsible for illegally bringing 110 African slaves from Benin to the U.S. over 160 years ago. As such, they reportedly own millions of dollars worth of real estate around the city, and a state park in Mobile Bay bears their family’s name. The Clotilda was set on fire to hide evidence of the slave journey and was found in Mobile’s murky waters in 2019.
Their statement arrived amid the release of Descendants–a new Netflix documentary about the individuals who were brought aboard the Clotilda and their families. The film was also acquired by the production company of Barack and Michelle Obama, Higher Ground.
The Meaher family’s efforts had reportedly been underway for a few weeks. According to Alabama news, they had been working on a meeting between themselves and the descendants of the last known transatlantic slave journey into the U.S. However, Ellis said, their statement “falls short” as it fails to mention Meahers’ brothers who conspired with him and the family’s decision to lease land to paper companies responsible for polluting Africatown–a community founded by the Africans in north Mobile after they were released from slavery in 1865.
“We received an email (Tuesday) from the Meaher family stating that they were welcoming the opportunity to meet with us,” Jeremy Ellis, president of the Clotilda Descendants Association, confirmed at the time. Ellis is reportedly a sixth-generation descendant of Pollee and Rose Allen, who were both enslaved and on board the slave ship.
“I am interested in learning and seeking answers from the Meaher family about historical documents, artifacts and oral histories that can bring clarity to descendants,” he added.
The Meaher clan has since begun meeting with leaders in and around Africatown. Darron Patterson, Clotilda captive Pollee Allen’s descendant, said he met with the financier’s family twice in September.
“Our conversations were just about who we are as people,” he said. “I think it’s important that we begin there,” Patterson said.
Community members have advocated for reparations for Clotilda’s descendants and are reportedly continuing to do so.