Georgetown University has horrific ties to slavery and the slave trade in America. Back in 1838, the prominent university was in a financial crisis. It ended up selling 272 slaves to plantations in Louisiana to pay off step debt. The slaves rage from few months old baby to an eighty year old.
One of the descendants of these slaves is Melisande Short-Colomb. The 63 year old grandmother learned of her connection to Georgetown when a genealogist tracking the descendants of the slaves contacted her last year. She was working as a chef in New Orleans at the time.
In the last few years, Georgetown has taken several steps to apologize for its part in the slave trade and find a way to begin to make amends. It created the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation and renamed buildings that were named after men who sold slaves.
The university is also offering descendants of the slaves that were sold off to repay debt a special legacy admission status. That is what brought Short-Colomb to Georgetown.
She attended college 45 years ago but never graduated. This opportunity gives Short-Colomb a chance to be a college graduate. So she stays at the dorms and works part time at the library in the rare books section as part of her work study financial aid program.
Short-Colomb was also able to meet relatives she never knew about since finding out about her ancestors and hopes to continue to discover more. Speaking of what she hopes to gain from her time at Georgetown, she told CNN, “I’m not here to live the 18 to 22-year-old experience. I’m here for a very specific reason… to know more.”
Read the full report on this story from CNN here.