Current Institutional Affiliation
River Road African American Museum

Award Information

American Slavery’s Legacy across Space and Time: Small Grants Program 2021
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
River Road African American Museum
Episcopal Church of Ascension - GU272 Historical Site Exhibit

The proposed project is a permanent exhibit telling the story of the GU272 – those enslaved and trafficked through a slave purchase between Georgetown University, Governor Henry Johnson, and Dr. Jesse Beatty of Donaldsonville, Louisiana – their life stories, and life stories of their descendants. The exhibit will be both virtual and on- site at the Episcopal Church of Ascension, which is a church that was co- founded and built on land formerly owned by Gov. Johnson. The building still stands on the same grounds today in Donaldsonville. The project will involve qualitative research using both primary and secondary research of documents, photos, genealogies, and interviews with descendants; curation, design, and creation of virtual and on- site exhibits; and activities for engagement and education between experts and community members about the lives of the GU272 of Ascension Parish, their descendants, and the impact of the 1838 purchase on individuals, families, and the region. Although many of the enslaved people were resold and redistributed to other places within the state and the surrounding regions after 1838, the GU272 are part of the history and legacy of Donaldsonville and Ascension Parish. Today, the people of Donaldsonville face challenges in accessing health, jobs, education, and safe living environments. It is important not only to remember the history of slavery in the region but also to honor the descendants of the enslaved in Ascension Parish. Slavery affected communities not only socially and economically, but American enslavement and trafficking of people also disrupted family ties generationally. For many, those family ties have never been restored. By doing this, we preserve the legacy of the formerly enslaved and celebrate their survival and that of their descendants throughout many years and eras since then. Also, we educate the community regarding the history of the region in order to address lingering issues that may affect the community currently. The resources provided at the exhibit will assist African Americans with recovering their family trees and learning more about their ancestry and heritage.