Discovering Amistad is a new, nonprofit organization that was formed in August 2015 as a result of a recommendation by a State of Connecticut Advisory Committee.
The Advisory Committee was set up by the state of Connecticut to determine whether a viable long-term, sustainable organization could be created to acquire the Amistad ship out of receivership. It was concluded that a new organization could be formed that could achieve success - and on November 6th, 2015, Discovering Amistad purchased the ship from the receiver. There is a great deal of work that needs to be accomplished, and Discovering Amistad’s board of directors has enthusiastically taken on the responsibilities of building this organization. Updates and repairs are underway on the ship, which is in good hands at Mystic Seaport where she was built.
Education programs and curriculum will be developed in partnership with education professionals and institutions. Education will not only be centered on the history of the Amistad but, importantly, it will focus on how that history has impacted our world today. Public events will be planned working with our community partners throughout the state. As Discovering Amistad grows, we encourage everyone to volunteer, collaborate and participate in our many worthwhile and meaningful projects in the months and years ahead.
Discovering Amistad is appreciative of support that has been received from the Department of Economic and Community Development. The Organization has been awarded nonprofit exemption status from the Internal Revenue Service.
A Brief History
In 1839, Mende captives from Sierra Leone took control of the ship, the Amistad. Unable to navigate back to Africa, the ship was captured and towed into the port of New London Harbor in Connecticut. The Mende were faced with slavery or execution, and their cause was taken up by many residents throughout Connecticut. U.S. Circuit and District courts ruled in favor of the Mende. This case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and in 1841 this court agreed with the lower court decisions and the Mende captives were ordered freed.
The role that Connecticut and its citizens played has been told and retold over the years, and in 1999 a new organization was formed and a replica of the Amistad ship was built in Mystic, Connecticut and launched in 2000. That organization went into receivership in 2015, and an Advisory Committee was formed to consider the future of the ship.
The Amistad is Connecticut's flagship and tall ship ambassador.