February is Black History Month and Baltimore is highlighting the many struggles and hardships African American sailors faced.
On a tour through the historic USS Constellation, historian Riley Williams said the ship played a significant role in the Civil War- leading the fight against the international slave trade.
“She went after not only, not only went after but commanded the ships in her squadron to capture and go after other slave ships.” Williams said.
Williams said the Constellation went after three slave ships, including one called “The Cora,” in 1860- that had 705 slaves imprisoned on deck.
He said the crew members aboard “The Cora” were captured and brought to be imprisoned in the Constellation’s lower deck.
“That was a proud moment for her.” Williams said.
Williams said African Americans served as sailors on the ship- some, even holding the prestigious position of being the captain’s cook, but still many men were faced with countless hardships.
“As a person of color you were not treated equal, even if you fought and did your daily routine with them.” Williams said.
Now, the ship stands proudly in the heart of the Inner Harbor, as a reminder of the struggles from a war that shaped a nation.
“Even though the doors were shut for some things, it was wide open for both.” Williams said.
If you’re interested in taking a tour, check out their Facebook page.
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