In case you didn’t know it, the United Nations has designated March 25th as the global Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Atlantic slave trade. But at Mystic Seaport, March 25th is circled in red and remembered fondly as the day the freedom schooner Amistad was launched from the Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard.
The excitement of that day is still palpable when you talk to anyone connected with the launch on March 25, 2000. The Amistad was two years in the building, and on launch day, those who had only watched her progress were as pumped up as the shipwrights whose hard work and talents recreated this living, breathing history lesson, a replica of the original vessel.
Since that special day, thousands of visitors have walked her decks and learned of the Amistad’s role in the struggle for human rights. She has visited 70 domestic and international ports, including a most meaningful stop at Sierra Leone, West Africa, home of the original Amistad captives.
Although Amistad America, Inc. is now the schooner’s official owner, Mystic Seaport, the vessel’s birthplace, can’t help but feel a ‘parental’ link to the ship. Consequently, the Museum is proud that the Amistad will add yet another poignant chapter to her ship’s log. As her most recent Caribbean Heritage Tour winds down, the Amistad sails into Cuban waters on March 22nd with scheduled port visits to Matanzas and Havanna.
Mystic Seaport has a unique connection to this particular tour since the original Amistad was built in Cuba. In 1839, she sailed from Havanna, the center of the illegal slave trade. Flying the American flag along with the Cuban flag, the Amistad’s arrival in Cuba makes a statement that she is truly a floating ambassador; Cuba has not readily welcomed American ships to its ports for some time.
Mystic Seaport takes great pride in the Museum’s contribution to history. The building and launch of the Amistad in the year 2000 was just the beginning of her mission to ensure the slave rebellion of 1841, which ultimately led to the U.S Supreme Court ruling to free the African captives, is a lesson to be learned and not forgotten.
Blog written by Trudi Busey