Key Africatown Board Releases Inaugural Membership List

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A nine-member board of directors who will help guide efforts to revitalize the Africatown community north of Mobile will meet for the first time on Thursday.

The names of the members were revealed Tuesday evening by State Representative Adline Clarke, D-Mobile, who sponsored the legislation in the spring session to form the Africatown Redevelopment Corporation. The legislation, enacted in April by Governor Kay Ivey, was drafted to form a board of directors whose goal will include revitalizing efforts in a community whose legacy is linked to the 110 enslaved African natives aboard the Clotilda.

Part of the slave ship was discovered in 2019, which launched an effort to generate tourism and economic development in an area surrounded by industrial development that for decades has been fighting poverty and scourge.

The board will meet Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Robert L. Hope Community Center in the heart of the Africatown community, adjacent to where a future Heritage House museum is being built. Heritage House, considered Africatown’s premier tourist attraction, is slated to open in early 2022.

The RCAF’s efforts will also include preserving the history of the community – Africatown was settled by the survivors of Clotilda after the Civil War. In addition, the group’s goal will include the development of commerce in the historic community.

Members of the CRA Board of Directors include:

  • Ruth Taylor Ballard, retired nurse and current Africatown resident
  • Teresa Fox Bettis, Executive Director of the Center for Fair Housing
  • Ann Brown, Managing Attorney, Alabama Mobile Office Legal Services
  • Keri Coumanis, United States District Court Clerk for the Southern District of Alabama
  • Angela Davis Littles, a health information management professional and Africatown resident who represents the Clotilda Descendants Association
  • Terry Harbin, Managing Partner of Affordable Homes Gulf Coast and Retired Bank President
  • Marc Jackson, Owner and Director of Kazoola Eatery & Entertainment and Former Bank Agent
  • Shirley Sessions, Vice President and Head of Community Development for Regions Bank
  • Jill Stork, Area Manager of the Mobile Division at Alabama Power Company

ARC Board of Directors appointing authorities, including the Descendants of Clotilda Association, the Africatown Heritage Preservation Society, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Mobile City Council member from District 2 representing Africatown , County Commission Chair Merceria Ludgood as Commissioner who represents Africatown, State Senator Vivian Figures and representative Clarke whose wards include Africatown.

The ARC will eventually be housed in the former Scott Credit Union building on Paper Mill Road. The city bought the building from the descendants of Timothy Meaher, who owned the slave ship. The building is expected to undergo renovations in the coming months as part of a project led by the Mobile County Commission.


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