In July 1839, a group of 53 enslaved Africans rose up and captured the slave schooner Amistad, killing the captain and another member of the crew. They kept two white Cubans alive and told them to steer the vessel back to Africa. Deceived, they ended up on the northern end of Long Island, New York, where they were captured by the U.S. Navy, taken to Connecticut, and charged with piracy and murder. Assisted by abolitionists who flocked to the case, they engaged in a legal battle for nineteen months and eventually won their freedom in a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. They were repatriated to their native Sierra Leone in January 1842. Marcus Rediker (University of Pittsburgh), author of The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom (Viking-Penguin, 2012), will show a rough cut of a documentary film on the same subject. He traveled with filmmaker Tony Buba to Sierra Leone in May 2013 to interview village elders about popular memory of the rebellion and to search for the long-lost ruins of the Lomboko slave-trading factory, where all of the Amistad Africans were imprisoned and shipped out.
Marcus Rediker is Distinguished Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh. His prize-winning books have been translated into a dozen languages. They include The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (with Peter Linebaugh, Beacon Press, 2000); The Slave Ship: A Human History (Viking-Penguin, 2007); and The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom (Viking-Penguin, 2012). His new book Outlaws of Atlantic: Sailors, Pirates, and Motley Crews in the Age of Sail, will be published by Beacon Press/Verso later this year.