About the Freedom Schooner Amistad

Type: Baltimore Clipper
Launched: March 2000
Operator: AMISTAD America Inc.
Homeport: New Haven, CT
Displacement: 136 tons
GRT (Gross Registered Tonnage): 96 tons
LOA (Length over All): 129' (39.4m)
LWL (Length at Water Line): 78' (23.8m)
Beam: 23' (7.01m)
Draft: 10.6' (3.3m)
Rig: Topsail Schooner
Height of Masts: 100' (30.5m)
Sail Area: 5200 square feet (843 m2)
Engines: 2x CAT3304 Diesel 135HP each

Amistad America Inc.is an internationally recognized, educational non-profit organization based in New Haven, Connecticut. AAI owns and operates the traditional wooden schooner S/V Freedom Schooner Amistad, the official tallship and flagship ambassador of the state of Connecticut.

  “In 1992, as we were preparing for the events surrounding the planned installation of the Memorial Statue of Sengbe Pieh, I received a telephone call from a gentleman who introduced himself as Warren Marr, former editor of the NAACP CRISIS Magazine. He told me that he and colleagues had rented Western Union’s Schooner in 1976, renamed it Amistad and had sailed it in Tall Ship Regatta in New York. After that, they had organized a Committee to raise funds to build a vessel that would be a sailing classroom going from port-to-port educating youth on the story of the Amistad Revolt and its lessons. 
     We arranged to meet and he asked if we would object to their organization scheduling their meeting in New Haven during our weekend so they could participate. We welcomed them and after listening to Warren’s story, I thought to myself that this was a Connecticut story, with national and international ramifications. The idea was dramatic, but I put it aside, too occupied with the press of our events.
For a couple of years, off and on, I would hear from Warren. With each encounter, I realized that his Committee was floundering and was unable to arouse the interest or potential funding for such an enterprise. I had also gathered that others had raised similar proposals but nothing had come of them. We had invited Governor Lowell Weicker to speak at the installation of the statue of Sengbe Pieh. Among the many activities, we had organized a Youth March for Freedom, an annual event we had organized with the New Haven School System on United Nations Day: Children for Peace. We changed it to Youth for Peace to encompass all age groups, not wanting to alienate teenagers with the term ‘children’. Governor Weicker indicated that he could not stay for the installation but would lead the March.
      It rained furiously that Saturday morning; the School Administrators told us the youth could not march. The Churches on the New Haven Green opened their doors and we ushered the youth into the Churches. Governor Weicker addressed the youth in Center Church. As he spoke, it was obvious he knew the story, but what stood out for me was his remark: “White America should learn the lessons of this story”. I knew then that we had an ally in the Governor.     
     It took some time, but several years later, I thought it was time to consider whether the construction of a floating classroom, a replica of the vessel, Amistad, was possible. After a survey of potential interested parties, we invited Mystic Seaport, New Haven Colony Historical Society, the Amistad Committee, and several of the State delegation to the General Assembly to a meeting at the New Haven Colony Historical Society to discuss the proposal that we approach the State of Connecticut to fund the building of a replica of The Amistad. There was enthusiastic agreement. We asked Representative William Dyson, who was present, to make the appointment.”

Alfred L. Marder, President of the Amistad Committee

Amistad America

     The mission of Amistad America is to teach the important lessons of history inherent in the Amistad incident of 1839. Amistad serves as an enduring symbol of unity and the human struggle for freedom. In shedding light on the facts of our collective history and the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade, Amistad America provides a peaceful means by which individuals and communities can learn together and address the issues of racism and intolerance with a positive goal of building bridges of mutual respect and understanding.

     The modern Amistad is not an exact replica of the original La Amistad. The designers of Freedom Schooner Amistad, Tri-Coastal Marine, of Richmond California, used modern computer technology to recreate a new vessel, following the general plan of "Baltimore Clippers", ships unique for the period both in design and proportion. The new Amistad is slightly larger than the original La Amistad of 1839. The extra 10 feet of length was built into the ship to accommodate an engine room. The recreated schooner conforms to late 20th century specifications and U.S. Coast Guard safety requirements for passenger-carrying vessels.

     After four years of designing, on March 8, 1998, Amistad America, Inc., and Mystic Seaport Museum laid the Amistad's keel in a moving international celebration. The construction of the schooner was conducted in the Museum's Restoration Shipyard using traditional skills and techniques common to wooden ships built in the 19th century. Some of the tools used in the project were the same as those that might have been used by a 19th century shipwright: bronze bolts are used as fastenings throughout the ship to join the prime quality timber.  Deck planks were cut out from the iroko trees donated by Sierra Leone - the homeland of the original Amistad captives of 1839. The construction took two years – on March 25, 2000 the Freedom Schooner Amistad was launched , with 10,000 people in attendance. On June 13, 2000 the recreated Amistad sailed for the first time.

     The Freedom Schooner Amistad transformed a ship of enslavement to a symbol of hope and monument to the pursuit of universal human freedom. Today, the replica sails the world as a continuation of that symbol and as a floating classroom, reaching thousands of people every year.

Amistad's international voyages began in 2005 with visiting Bermuda, followed by the 2007 Atlantic Freedom Tour - a 14,000 miles, year long, epic voyage retracing the infamous Atlantic Slave Trade Triangle.  The schooner visited Canada, Azores, UK, Portugal, Canary Islands, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde and Barbados before landing back in USA.

     In 2010 the Freedom Schooner Amistad completed its second international tour visiting Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic and an internationally covered "homecoming" to Havana, Cuba.This high-profile public diplomacy initiative involved direct involvement of the United Nations, the US State Department and the Cuban government.

     After suffering a major rig failure and 2 years of stationary programming at the Mystic Seaport-the Freedom Schooner Amistad set sail in June of 2012 touring Connecticut and Canada before heading to the Caribbean for on board educational programming with high school students. In summer of 2013 the Freedom Schooner Amistad joined the fight against modern day human trafficking in partnership with LOVE146. Visitors who come aboard continue to learn the incredible story of the Amistad Incident of 1839 and now also become aware of how slavery still exists today. They are given tools to become modern day abolitionist. Amistad America is currently planning a 2014 East Coast tour and Connecticut Summer Program schedule.  

 

 www.amistadvoyages.org "Follow the voyage & Join the movement"

"All We Want Is Make Us Free"  - Sengbe Pieh

© Website Composite by Eliran Ifrach with Editorial by Emily Reim and Hanifa Washington

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