Last Known Survivor of the US Slave Trade Identified

A woman believed to be the last living, African-born survivor of the transatlantic slave trade has been identified and had her story documented by a researcher in the United Kingdom.

The life of a woman named Redoshi, who was kidnapped as a girl in West Africa and enslaved in Alabama, was recently depicted in a research paper by Hannah Durkin, a lecturer at Newcastle University, who came across the woman’s story while doing other research.

“What makes Redoshi’s story unique in terms of our larger understanding of the slave trade is that hers is the most complete story we have (of) a female Middle Passage survivor,” Durkin wrote in an email to USA TODAY.

“Until now, historians have been able to uncover almost no personal accounts of the Middle Passage as recorded by women, and those few accounts that do exist are all incredibly brief.”

Durkin believes Redoshi was born around 1848 in what is today the country of Benin. In 1860, Redoshi, who was 12 at the time, was among 116 young people and children abducted and taken to the United States on the Clotilda, the last slave ship to arrive in the country.

While on the ship, Redoshi was forced to become a child bride, a finding that Durkin called “horrifying” and said “really highlights the abuses she endured.”

Washington Smith, who owned a plantation in Dallas County, Alabama, and was also a founder of the Bank of Selma, bought Redoshi, who was eventually given the name Sally Smith, Durkin’s research found.

Redoshi was enslaved for five years on the plantation and worked in both the house and field. After emancipation, she continued to live on the plantation with her daughter, Durkin found.

Her husband, an African-born man known as William or Billy, eventually died in the 1910s or 1920s.

Redoshi lived until 1937, according to Durkin. That’s two years later than the man previously believed to be the last living survivor of the slave trade — Oluale Kossola, also known as Cudjo Lewis, who also was brought to the United State on the Clotilda.

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Source: USA Today