New York and Alabama – Monday, nonprofit organization HEART 9/11 brought a delegation of New Yorkers to Africatown, Alabama, where they will spend several days this week rebuilding and renovating homes owned by descendants of enslaved West Africans.
The delegation includes New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, skilled firefighters, first responders, and building trades members, including members of Laborers’ Local 79.
Africatown, Alabama is the hometown of 1969 “Miracle Mets” team member Cleon Jones. The rebuilding of homes will be done in collaboration with Jones’ non-profit, The Last Out Community Foundation. Africatown is a historic community north of Mobile, formed by a group of West Africans who, in 1860, were bought and transported against their will in the last known illegal shipment of enslaved people to the United States.
Jones’ mission is to see his hometown of Africatown prosper for future generations.
“We service the community by painting houses, restoring houses. Since the storms (Hurricanes Sally and Zeta), we’ve had a lot of roof problems in which the storms blew the roof off,” said Jones.
“HEART 9/11 members are pleased that we can assist the descendants of the last slave ship to sail from Africa in the 1800s in restoring their homes and hope for a better future,” said William Keegan, Founder and President of HEART 9/11.
“After 9/11, many people from across the country came to New York City to help us rebuild. As construction laborers and New Yorkers, we’re proud to help Africatown residents rebuild,” said Mike Prohaska, Business Manager of Laborers’ Local 79.