Audri Scott Williams (Courtesy photo)

 In 2000, Audri Scott Williams, the first woman to lead a global walk for Human Rights and Environmental Justice, 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 walked from North to South on the famous “Trail of Tears” that took place from 1831 to 1850. Williams and her group “reversed the energy” by calling their walk, “The Trail of Dreams.”

In 2002, The Trail of Dreams World Peace Walkers traveled to Ghana, West Africa and on to Cape Coast and Elmina, the site of slave dungeons where stolen Africans were sold into slavery and forced onto ships that sailed the transatlantic slave trade routes. Between 10 million to 12 million enslaved Africans were brought to the Americas.

From 2005-2009, the Peace Walkers embarked on an “impossible journey,” walking around the world and traversing 17 countries, including India, New Zealand, and Australia.

On Friday, April 14, Williams will launch another epic journey, the Redemption Voyage 2026, redeeming what was lost during a torturous and brutal past, this time traveling by sea from America to Africa.

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Under the auspices of the 20 Million Women Strong non-profit, Williams intends to provide an opportunity for the continued healing of the wounds from the dehumanization of Americans of African descent throughout the diaspora.

With the goal of developing digital griots to be future leaders and content creators for a sustainable, thriving future for all, in 2026, nine young women and nine young men between the ages of 21 and 28, of African descent from America will set sail for the west coast of Africa on a commissioned ship. The students will have been selected through Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Their stories will be shared around the world as they learn to navigate, collect water samples from the ocean, document, and share their experiences by utilizing advanced technology. They will bring the world with them across the Atlantic Ocean to Benin, Ghana, The Gambia, Goree Island, and Senegal, where they will be welcomed by the elders and be reunited with family.

When they complete the Redemption Voyage and return to America, they will share their experiences through group-based dialogue, especially meaningful in paving the way for transformation in wider communities.

According to Williams, “The mission of 20 Million Women Strong is to create access to careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. We are incorporating an advanced STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Math) training and development initiative which will be utilized for digital storytelling, scientific ocean water sampling to determine the impact of toxins on ocean water and ocean life, navigation, and arts and culture.

“It is also important to note that 2026 marks the 250th Anniversary of America’s founding. To observe this momentous occasion, the U.S. Semi-quincentennial Commission will encourage Americans to remember our past, celebrate the present, and look forward to a promising future. Americans of African descent have a challenging time finding our ‘place’ in the celebrations due to the scars of slavery, discrimination, and violence,” she noted.

Williams is launching the initiative in Africatown, a historic community located three miles north of downtown Mobile, Alabama. It was formed in 1860 by a group of 110 West Africans who were bought and transported against their will aboard the Clotilda in the last known illegal shipment of enslaved Africans to the United States.

A press conference will be held on April 14, at 10 a.m., at the cast iron bust sculpture of Cudjoe Lewis, the last survivor of the slave ship, The Clotilde.  The sculpture is in front of the historic Union Missionary Baptist Church, 506 Africatown, Blvd., Mobile, AL.

The host for the event will be Retired Major Joe Womack, one of the founders of the Africatown Heritage Preservation Foundation. Accompanying Williams will be peacewalkers Karen Hunter Watson and Nef’fahtiti Myrick; Queen Mothers Muhjah Shakir and Osunnike Robin Scott-Manna; and Tuskegee, AL City Council Woman Norma Jackson.

The Redemption Voyage 2026 will kick off in Mobile in November of 2026 sailing to Benin where the crew will step onto the shores of Quidah, effectively reversing the course of the Clotilda. “I can only imagine the call of the Ancestors,” said Williams.

Among the outcomes that Williams envisions include a traveling exhibit of the voyage that will inspire those living in the African diaspora and beyond; permanent exhibits at places, including the DC’s African American Museum and Ghana’s Pan African Heritage Museum; and the publishing of a series of books, The Redemption Voyage, with a curriculum and media guide for elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.