local sails to Africa aboard the Amistad
Amy Woolvett THE COAST GUARD NovaNewsNow.com There are moments when freedom must be taken and a Shelburne teen will be learning first hand the tale of freedom and survival on a journey through history and the high seas.
A journey through history
19-year old Hailey Cox will be boarding the replica of the Amistad as it sets sail on the last leg of its 16-month 14,000-mile voyage that traces the original 19th century route of the slave trade.
Cox left last Saturday to fly to Boston then New York to meet many of her shipmates and will be flying to Liverpool, England where they will embark on what is to be called the Freedom Tour.
The story of the Amistad will be learned and taught as Cox will follow the route from England to Sierra Leone, with many stops along the way.
The journey for Cox will take around four months. “I am nervous,” said Cox, “it is a long way from home.”
She may be nervous but the excitement of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity clearly shone through as she spoke. “I’m going to learn all of the history, how to sail, to learn about navigation through the stars…really we’re going to learn about everything.”
The main topic of learning will be the story of the Amistad, and her captives story of freedom.
In 1839, four nights into their route from Sierra Leone to Port Principe, around 50 African captives on board the Amistad revolted and killed the Spanish captain and three-crew and took possession of the vessel.
The captives kept two passengers alive to navigate through the waters and back to Africa but the ship ended up near Long Island and they were captured and brought to court for both piracy and murder.
Former US president, Quincy Adams, successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the captives and in 1841 they were returned to Africa.
The replica ship has timed its voyage to coincide with the bicentenary of the act to abolish the Slave Trade and through web-logs, reenactments and story telling the crew of students including Cox will spread the Amistad story and their own personal experiences worldwide.
Cox first learned of the replica’s journey last year when she was working in the Black Loyalist Museum and the Captain and crew of the Amistad replica visited Birchtown and spoke to Cox about the planned historical journey. “I showed a lot of interest because it just sounded like an amazing trip and she (the captain) said it would be great if I could come,” explained Cox.
The journey did sound like something Cox would love to experience but as time went on the idea was almost forgotten amongst the business of her busy life. “And then three weeks ago I got a call asking if I still wanted to go and I said yes,” said Cox.
Cox will be the only Canadian to accompany the 50 other students/crew aboard the Amistad on its Freedom Tour.
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax as well as the Black Loyalist Society in Birchtown will be supporting Cox’s trip costs of $10,000 through fundraising and community support.
People will have an opportunity to follow Cox throughout her journey through her writings by visiting www.amistadamerica.org