Audri Scott Williams, a global peace advocate and Alabamian, is preparing to launch an epic journey called the Redemption Voyage 2026 to heal the wounds of American people of African descent.

“It’s probably the most important thing I feel that I’ve ever done in my life. That is why we are beginning now, for a voyage that will happen in 2026. We will be taking 18 to 20 young, 21- to 28-year-olds on a journey from America, leaving out of Mobile [Alabama], going to Quidah, a country in Benin West Africa, following the same route of the Clotilda, and then going from Benin north along the West Coast going to Ghana, The Gambia, and Senegal,” Scott Williams said, noting the journey will end in Virginia at Fort Monroe.

The ship will leave from Mobile, Alabama because the Clotilda slave ship was the last documented U.S. ship that illegally brought West African captives to Mobile after the international slave trade was no longer legal. The community of displaced Africans, who became free Americans, became known as Africatown. It is located near downtown Mobile.

“It’s about redeeming what was lost; reconnecting with our African roots,” Scott Williams said, referring to the voyage.

In 2000, Scott Williams led a group of five women and one man on a three-month walk on the Appalachian Trail where escaped slaves sought freedom along with Native Americans. The group of walkers took a journey from North to South on the famous “Trail of Tears” that took place from 1831 to 1850. Williams and the group “reversed the energy” during their “ Trail of Dreams” journey. Scott Williams also became the first woman to lead a global walk for human rights and environmental justice.

The upcoming journey will allow a select group of young people to set sail for the West Coast of Africa on a commissioned ship.

“The ship will actually leave in November of 2025, and arrive in Africa right at the turn of the year in 2026,” Scott Williams said.

Eighteen African Americans— nine young men and nine young women— will share stories of their journey while learning to navigate, collect water samples from the ocean, document, and share their experiences by utilizing advanced technology. Scott Williams added that they will be college students who attend HBCUs, working at either college or graduate level studies.

“The artistic part of this voyage is going to be incredible because there’s going to be a lot of artistic collaboration and storytelling through art of all kinds,” Scott Williams said.

The experience will connect with science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Conducting scientific studies, learning about history and culture and technology to share elements of the trip will be an integral part of the voyage.

Students will receive a scholarship for the field work they will be conducting on the Redemption Voyage, according to Scott Williams.

Specific departure and arrival dates are still being worked out, according to Scott Williams.

“We’ll be recruiting through the HBCUs starting in about five to six months,” she added.

A press conference providing information about Redemption Voyage 2026 will be held on April 14, 2023 at 10 a.m. at the Robert Hope Community Center, located at 850 Edwards Street in Mobile, Alabama.

Dr. Muhjah Shakir is one of the Queen Mother’s/Advisors for Redemption Voyage 2026. She explained that the Queen Mother title is a special designation that’s given to a woman who has an exemplary lifestyle or life experiences devoted to the upliftment of the people.

“In this case, in particular, our focus is on the African American or Black American, indigenous American people,” Shaikir said.

The Queen Mothers will be there to keep the collective group of people involved, moving in the direction of the vision and mission. Shakir also stated that Scott Williams is an exemplary vehicle for doing great work in the elements of peace and uplifting historically disenfranchised communities.

Lenett Nef’fahtiti Partlow-Myrick, aka “Mama Nef,” is a poet, writer, scholar, educator, spiritual activist, visual artist and grandmother who is Baltimore County based. Partlow-Myrick stated that she is a member of the planning committee who explained the significance of the voyage in 2026.

“I believe it is significant for us to, at every opportunity, to retrace our ancestors footsteps and their pathway so that as we go forward, we have a clearer understanding, not only intellectually, and not only from the things that we have learned and read from the actual experience, but as much as we can of walking in their footsteps and being in the physical places and spaces that they occupied, to understand where we have been, in order to gain a greater appreciation for where we are now,” Partlow-Myrick said.

According to Scott Williams, “This is a true Sankofa moment. We are going back to retrieve what we have lost and bring it into the now, as we deepen our understanding of the wisdom that runs deep in our blood. I am grateful that our African brothers are opening their hearts to welcome us to embrace our roots.” BT

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