Black History Stories

Oluale Kossola (Cudjoe Lewis)


From 1619, until December 1865 when Congress ratified the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery, millions of African men, women and children were captured and enslaved. The last ship to bring captured African people to America as slaves did so illegally in 1860, 50 years after the international slave trade was no longer legal.

Zora Neale Hurston, an African American author who wrote, Their Eyes Were Watching God, discovered the story of Oluale Kossola, who, as a teenager, was captured from his village in West Africa, sold into slavery and brought to Alabama crammed into the ship, Clotilda in 1860. Kossola eventually was freed, and together with other freed slaves founded, and lived in Africatown working various jobs to make a living for his family until his death in the early 1930’s.

Hurston’s story about Kossola, Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’, was never published in her lifetime. In 2018, HarperCollins finally published it. Many disturbing truths about how people lived before, during and after their enslavement are revealed in Hurston’s story.