Clotilda: The Return Home Exclusive Clip ‘Soul of No Return’ Shows the Heartbreak of the Descendants of Slaves

Juneteenth is just days away and there’s no better way to celebrate the holiday than with a new documentary that highlights an untold story of African American history.

Premiering on Hulu and Disney+, National Geographic documentary Clotilda: The Return Home chronicles a full-circle journey for the descendants of the last known American slave ship, the Clotilda, which infamously brought 110 African slaves to Mobile, Alabama, in 1860.

The year is 1808 and slave trade is illegal but that didn’t stop all people from continuing to profit off the selling of slaves. One of the kings in Benin, the king of the Dahomey, was selling captive Africans and decided to make a bet he could build a ship and sail illegally over to Benin, buy Africans and bring them back without being caught. To cover up his tracks, the shipbuilder unloaded the slaves, burned the vessel and sank it in the Mobile River.

Clotilda: The Return Home is about the descendants of Cudjoe Lewis and Gumpa Lee, who were two of the Africans on the Clotilda, as it retraces the route that they took to come to the Americas, which was a massive undertaking.

As seen in the exclusive clip above titled “Souls of No Return,” the pain of event is heartbreakingly felt as the descendants visit the location where their ancestors arrived in the Americas.

Despite the coverup, the only reason why these stories are known today is because the enslaved people survived and passed down their stories of being kidnapped to their descendants. In 1865 during the Civil War, they were finally freed and decided to pool their earnings together (and) started working as sharecroppers. 32 of the freed enslaved worked together, taking nine years to save up $300. They bought 57 acres of land and turned that into a community called Africatown.

Today, their descendants are fulfilling that dream and National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts, whose work shines a light on the origin stories of Africans in the Americas, joins them on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

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