1939: Revolt

Hale Woodruff’s murals commemorating the revolt on the Spanish slave ship Amistad were installed in Talladega College’s Savery Library in 1939, the centennial of the uprising.

The first mural depicts the moment when, on or about July 1, 1839, kidnapped captives aboard the Amistad rebelled against their captors, killing the captain and some crew members before finally gaining control of the ship.

Through deception by the navigator, whose life the rebels  had spared, the ship arrived not back in their home country of Mendiland (in modern-day Sierra Leone), but in the USA—setting off the first civil rights court case in the country (shown in the second mural). The Mende faced possible execution if convicted of mutiny, but ultimately, the US Supreme Court ruled that they had rebelled in self-defense and ordered them freed.  Thirty-five survivors made their way back to Africa a year later—the scene of the third mural.

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