MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Today marks 163 years since the Clotilda descendants landed in Mobile as enslaved people. Today also marks the opening of the Africatown Heritage House with a full day of events to pay tribute to the 110 enslaved people taken from their homeland on the Clotilda.

The first event was the annual “Landing Ceremony” early Saturday morning. Dozens gathered under the Africatown Bridge near the water. This “Landing Ceremony” takes on special significance with coverage from around the country, descendants share stories and memories–and end with a wreath tossed into the water.

“It is important that the world never forget, never forget their bravery, their resilience, their survival. And the thing that’s unique about them. They were born free and they came to this country and were enslaved,” said William Green with the Clotilda Descendants Association. About an hour later people gathered outside waiting their turn, to go into the Africatown Heritage House, which opened for the first time, and making real the stories generations passed down.

“For a long time, their story was withheld. They couldn’t tell their story. So now we’re seeing that there’s a whole museum dedicated to their story. And this is not just the story of the one group from the Clotilda. This is also the story of the town of Africatown,” said Africatown Heritage House Manager Jessica Fairley. It’s a bright new landmark next to the Mobile County Training School that is teaming with history.

“Not just learn a history of incredible and remarkable people, the remarkable community they created. But I hope that they also come away knowing that the past is very much present,” said Dr. Meg Fowler with the History Museum of Mobile. The Heritage House is a big deal for Mobile and also a big deal for a lot of people across the region and across the country.

“I am part of the descendants of Sally and Billy Smith. They were my ancestors and that’s why I traveled all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio,” said Dannielle Moore. “To be a part of the heritage was very important for me to kind of understand where I came from and how everything’s all going moving forward.”