Events commemorate bicentennial of slave trade abolition in U.S.

October 21, 2008

University Park, Pa. — A bicentennial commemoration of the abolition of the legal slave trade in the United State will be held with two events on Thursday (Oct. 23) afternoon at Penn State's University Park campus. The events are presented by the Center for American Literary Studies and the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center.

A public mini-marathon read-in of documents related to the slave trade will take place from 1-3:30 p.m. on the steps of Pattee Library. Members of the Penn State and Centre County communities will read short excerpts from the document to bring alive the literature of the slave trade to participants and passers-by on campus. Readers will include Penn State graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and deans, State College Area High School students, Schlow Library librarians, State College Mayor Bill Welch and Sue Paterno.

Sylviane A. Diouf of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture then will present "The Transatlantic Slave Trade: The Human Story," at 4 p.m. in 207 Henderson South. Diouf is the author of the award-winning Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America (Oxford University Press, 2007). The book is a detailed account of the lives of the young people from Benin and Nigeria who were on the last documented slave ship to the U.S.

On March 2, 1807, Thomas Jefferson had signed the Act to abolish the international slave trade (effective January 1, 1808) but, as her lecture will show, it went on for another fifty-two years. The 110 children and adolescents who had been forced to board the Clotilda arrived in Mobile, Alabama in July 1860. Freed in 1865, they tried unsuccessfully to go back home and finally founded their own settlement, African Town, where their descendants still live today. The last survivor of the original group died in 1935.

The events are free and open to the public.


  • Sylviane A. Diouf, author of the award-winning Dreams of Africa in Alabama, will speak Thursday (Oct. 23) on the slave trade and its abolition in the United States in 1808.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010