This 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 (ECA), which is a church that was co-founded and built on land formerly owned by Gov. Johnson. The building is currently owned by a former board member of the River Road African American Museum (RRAAM). 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 exhibits will be presented through the RRAAM’s website and an on-site exhibit at the ECA. Educational programming will engage the historians, the descendant community of Ascension Parish, students, and the public.
Although many of the enslaved people were resold and redistributed to other parishes and regions after 1838, the GU272 are part of the history and legacy of Donaldsonville and Ascension Parish. Today, the people of Donaldsonville face modern-day challenges involving environmental justice, health-care disparities, and low-wage jobs.
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 these communities socially and economically, but American enslavement and trafficking of people disrupted family ties globally. For many, those family ties have never been restored. This project will help preserve the legacy of the formerly enslaved. This project will educate the community about the history of the region and address lingering issues that affect the community today. The resources provided at the genealogical programs will help participants of all ages learn more about their ancestry and heritage from a local perspective.
Consultant, River Road African American Museum
Historian, Independent Contractor
Administrator, Independent Contractor