Connecting Maryland’s Past to Louisiana’s Present: The Georgetown 272
T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
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Why people didn’t pass down stories about being enslaved
The reality of the American Chattel System of Slavery
MELISANDE SHORT COLOMB
Growing up in Jim Crow Louisiana
Priest who tried to integrate church seating
Sister In Law punished for Civil Rights Activities
The attempted lynching and escape of Civil Rights Speaker, James Farmer, in Plaquemine, Louisiana
America needs to reconcile the legacy of slavery
The excuse that slavery was the law does not negate the damage
Her parents pushed the black/white boundaries of their Catholic Church
Segregation in the 1990s
Is this really us?
MARY WILLIAMS WAGNER
The mental and physical strength of her ancestors
I'm more American than you!
Jesuits & Georgetown
The frustration of not knowing your history
Looking for acknowledgement, not apologies
A sense of betrayal by the Catholic Jesuits
MARY WILLIAMS WAGNER
A dark part of our history
Need to involve descendants on what reconcilliation looks like
How can we look with new eyes at our own deed?
We all ought to put some skin in the game
Outreach should include educational opportunities
We need to open up for critical research into where we are going as a nation
Involve descendants in research and education about the GU272.
This learning experience
Biographies of narrators were written by the students who interviewed them for their final project in the Honors 2030 Class, 2017.
Leroy Baker was born in 1954 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Marian and Ronald Baker. And is the descendant of great, great, great grandson of Nace and Biby Butler sold by Jesuit priest, Thomas F. Mulledy, to Jesse Batey of Terrebonne Parish. Lee worked for his father at their 24-hour restaurant even after his parents filed for divorce. After he finished high school, he enrolled at St. Joseph Seminary College to pursue his priesthood. Baker aas the first African-American allowed in the New Orleans Athletic Club in the 1980s. Spent most of working career as program director for Covenant House. Lee is currently in 16th year of teaching at Archbishop Rummel High School as a theology teacher, and will soon start teaching higher learning at Tulane University. Found out in 2004 family reunion that he is related to two of the original GU272. –
By Bret Fulmer
Clara Ann Clayton
Clara Ann Clayton was born on December 16, 1941 to Mr. Clarence Hill and Mrs. Lucia Scott Hill and is the second oldest of five children. Her family lived in Valero, California, until her mother passed away when Clayton was only four. Her maternal grandmother, Mrs. Clara Gay Scott, took the children back to Plaquemine, Louisiana, where she raised the oldest four, and Clayton's father and his mother raised the youngest. Clayton attended trade school before getting her degree in nursing. A little while after marrying her husband, Clayton moved up to Port Allen, Louisiana, in 1964 where she still resides to this day. When she was little, Clayton attended church at St. Peter Baptist Church in Plaquemine as well as her Aunt's church, Grace Methodist Church. Clayton is a direct descendant of Isaac Hawkins. Currently a widowed housewife, Clayton has four children of her own and multiple grandchildren. She is a member of multiple masonic societies, including Eastern Star and the Daughters. In her free time, she travels with the Red Hatters across the country to see various historical monuments and cities. –
By Russell Wilder
Tony Clayton was born June 6th in 1963. He is one of four children born to Earnest and Clara Scott Hill Clayton in Plaquemine, Louisiana. He attended school at Brusly High School where he served as president of student government. Clayton continued his pursuit of higher education at Southern University where he obtained his B.S in Political Science. Clayton also obtained his law degree at Southern University’s Law Center after receiving his bachelor’s degree. After graduating from Southern University’s Law School, Clayton opened a private firm focusing on divorces, successions, and civil matters with his curre¬¬nt wife, Paula Clayton, with a large portion of his clientele coming from Iberville Parish residents. Clayton continues to run a private law firm now named Clayton, Fruge, and Ward where he made the transition from civil suits to homicide law. He is well known for his prosecution of notorious Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee. In addition to his law practice, Clayton serves on Southern University’s Board of Advisors, a position he has held for twenty years. Currently, Clayton lives in Port Allen with his wife and youngest son where he has developed a shopping center named after his late grandmother, The Village at Hun’s Grove and owns a CC’s Coffee franchise. –
By RaeDiance Fuller
Maxine Crump is from Maringouin, Louisiana. She is the daughter of Emmanuel and Pauline Crump and has six siblings. Crump attended Louisiana State University in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, and was the first African-American to live in the dorms on LSU Campus. At LSU, Crump studied office administration and went on to a career in radio and television. Crump currently runs the Dialogue on Race Series Louisiana. She is a descendant of Cornelius Hawkins, one of the 272 slaves sold by Georgetown University and was featured in the New York Times article that initially broke the story about the discovery of living descendants. She is the Vice President of the GU272 Descendants Association. –
By Dominique Angibeau
Evelyn Georgetown Pugh
Evelyn Georgetown Pugh, a descendant of one of the 272 enslaved people sold by Georgetown in 1838, was born to Osborn Georgetown and Clore Williams Georgetown on May 17, 1932 in Plaquemine, Louisiana, where her parents sharecropped on rented land. She attended segregated schools through 8th grade and then returned later to get her GED. She had multiple different jobs throughout her life. First, she sold grave gowns to funeral homes and later began a catering business that also included baking wedding cakes. She is a devout Baptist. Growing up she attended church every Sunday and continues to do so today. She had five biological children and adopted three others through the foster care system with her husband. Although her children have scattered about the country, she still resides in Plaquemine.
Michelle Crump Harrington was born on December 17, 1964 in New Roads, Louisiana to Emanuel and Pauline Ventress Crump. She was the youngest of seven children, so she recalls growing up with her siblings being more like parents because of the 13-year age gap. The family regularly attended Catholic church at the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Maringouin, the next parish over. Mrs. Harrington attended Upper Maringouin and Thomas A. Levy for her elementary education, and then her father moved her to Catholic High in Pointe Coupe Parish, which she attended from sixth grade until her graduation. She then pursued Communications at Southeastern for a year and a half before transferring to LSU to be closer to home. She got married at 19 and started as a part-time receptionist with then WRBT-TV, and then she worked as a temporary sales assistant, a traffic assistant, and a programming assistant before her son fell ill. She opened a hair salon with her husband, and later returned to work in television as a Program Director. Mrs. Harrington and her husband have three sons, and she currently works as the Station Manager for White Knight Broadcasting in Baton Rouge. –
By Rainey Charbonnet
Rashaad Jackson was born on December 23, 1980, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Katherine Jackson Nee Coleman and Richard S. Jackson. He has two older sisters, Gina Washington and Anika Jackson. In New Orleans, Jackson attended the New Orleans Center of Science and Mathematics where he was able to expand his passion for math and science. After high school, he continued his education at University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. After a negative experience there, Jackson then spent a semester at the University of New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana. He then transferred to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he finished his degree in computer science. At Southern, Jackson was a member of the football team for a semester, and he was also a member of the National Quiz Bowl team, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, and College Democrats. Currently, Jackson works at Louisiana State University as a Systems and Network Administrator 3 with Residential Life. –
By Staci Shelby
Delores Johnson was born in 1950 in Chicago, Illinois, to George Williams and Emily Elizabeth Hawkins Williams. Her father, George Williams, is from Cleveland, Mississippi, and her mother, Emily Elizabeth Hawkins Williams, is from Maringouin, Louisiana. The couple met in Chicago while George was working for a railroad company and Emily was on a trip to the city. Johnson grew up in Lockport, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, and now resides in University Park, Illinois. Her family was the only African American family in Lockport that practiced Catholicism since birth, and Johnson and her siblings all attended Catholic elementary school. She herself attended a Catholic high school for her freshman year before transferring to another school. Johnson has no memories of her grandparents, either maternal or paternal, as they died before she was born and while her parents were both young. Now retired, Johnson previously worked as a bookkeeper for a non-profit organization and then later as an office manager for a forestry service. Currently, she is working with her sister, Mary, and others on the discovery of descendants from the 272 slaves sold from Georgetown University by Jesuit priests to Louisiana. Johnson has several children, including one son, and grandchildren. —
By Scarlett Hammond
Carolyn Morris was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 2, 1946 to Gustave and Ruth Morris. Morris moved to, and began elementary school in Plaquemine continuing her primary and secondary education in the area. After graduating from Iberville High School, Morris began her undergraduate studies in Music Education at Southern University in 1963 and later received her Master’s in Music Education at Louisiana State University. After graduation, Morris began working as an elementary music education teacher in the East Baton Rouge Parish Public School System. Surrounded by an underfunded music education program, Morris quickly realized the need for greater certification in order to advance in her career in public education. After five years as a music educator, Morris returned to LSU and received her certification in school administration. With her new certification, Morris attained administration roles as both vice-principal and principal in multiple schools across the East Baton Rouge area for the remainder of her career. Post-retirement, Morris was asked to return to administration where she served at McKinley Magnet Middle School and Howell Park Elementary. Morris is married to Reginald Morris with three children, and the couple is currently retired in Zachary, Louisiana. –
By Rene Petit
Ethel Murphy was born on May 10, 1937 in Maringouin, Louisiana. She was the thirteenth of nineteen children born to Ben Poole and Elnora Hicks Poole. She lived in Maringouin until she was 16, and attended an African-American elementary and middle school. At the age of 16, she moved to St. Louis to live with her older brother. Murphy didn’t continue to attend high school, and she worked various jobs, most significantly at two hospitals. While in St. Louis, she married a man in the military and moved to California for a short time, before getting a divorce at age 21 and returning to Maringouin, where she has remained. She married again and had two sons, and now has grandchildren and great grandchildren. Murphy worked at Louisiana State University for 20 years, ending her career at LSU as the kitchen supervisor in Pleasant Hall, then an on-campus hotel. In the 1990s, Murphy received her GED from Shady Brook high school in Maringouin. She now works at a doctor’s office in Baton Rouge twice a week, and still lives in Maringouin with her younger son. —
By Sophia Spring
Bernadine Poole was born on September 6, 1966 in New Roads, Louisiana, to Jessie May Fields Poole and John Burnell Poole. She has lived in Maringouin, Louisiana, since her birth. Poole attended Head Start in a building that has since been turned into a bar room, elementary school at Upper Maringouin School, and continued her education at T.A. Levy High School. Poole was the third person in her family to attend college, and she graduated from Southern University in Baton Rouge with a degree in Computer Science. Poole attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church growing up, and still does to this day. Poole spent the majority of her summers growing up at her grandmother’s house, and she spent a lot of time playing outdoors with her cousins and neighbors. Poole became very involved, alongside her niece, Jessica, in researching her lineage with regards to the Georgetown 272. Poole conducted a DNA test to discover her mother’s family because she knew a lot about her father’s ancestors. Poole is the IT Support Spec 2 at the State of Louisiana Office of Technology Services. Poole is unmarried, and she has no children. Poole lives with her father, John Burnell Poole. –
By Zoe Williamson
Adam Rothman is a Professor in the History Department at Georgetown University. Adam studies the history of the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War, and the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Atlantic history, 19th century U.S history, and the history of slavery.
His most recent book is Beyond Freedom's Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery (Harvard University Press, 2015), which was named a Humanities Book of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and it has received the Jefferson Davis Book Award from the American Civil War Museum, and the Margaret T. Lane/Virginia F. Saunders Memorial Research Award from the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association. Adam served on Georgetown's Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation in 2015-2016, and is currently the principal curator of the Georgetown Slavery Archive.
Karran Harper Royal
Karran Harper Royal was born on August 2nd 1963, and lived with her mother and step-father. She grew up in the New Orleans Projects and eventually graduated from Warren Easton High School. During her senior year though, her brother with Batten’s Disease, a terminal illness, passed away. Her mother divorced during that year also, so Royal worked several jobs to help care for her family financially, and wasn’t able to attend college. She worked her way up the retail management business, while also getting married and having two sons. She eventually quit her job to help focus on her son’s special education that was being neglected by his school. She became a Special Educational advocate in the New Orleans School Area from 1992 until 2016. Since finding out her family’s connection to the Georgetown sale of 272 enslaved people, she became heavily involved with the creation of the GU272 Descendants Association, and now serves as the Executive Director of the group. She now works tirelessly to reconnect her and the families torn apart by the sale. –
By Shaya Khorsandi
Mélisande Short-Colomb was born in 1954 in New Orleans, Louisiana to St. Elmo Bauduit Short Senior and Genevieva Wanda Lawless Short. She has one sibling, a brother that is 13 years her junior. She received her high school diploma and graduated from college. After twelve years of being a stay-at-home mom of four, she decided to go to culinary school. Short-Colomb has been a working as a professional culinarian for the past twenty years. Around July 2016, Judy Riffel from the Georgetown memory project contacted Short-Colomb with news of her ancestry. She is a descendant of the 272 enslaved men, women, and children sold by Jesuits of Georgetown University. Her three times maternal great-grandparents Mary-Ellen Queen and Abraham Mahoney, were sold in 1838 and arrived in Louisiana abroad a boat called the Uncas. Short-Colomb has now had an opportunity to meet other descendants, as they continue their genealogical research into the descendants of these 272 people. She participates in geological seminars and studies and is a member of the ‘GU 272 Descendants Association. She now attends Georgetown University, granted Legacy Status. –
By Hannah Richards
Mrs. Debra Tilson was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, on September 10, 1961, to Jessie May Fields and Burnell Poole. She grew up in Maringouin and went to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic school and got her undergraduate degree from Southern University. She married and had two daughters: Mary, who died as a teenager, and Jessica, who has children of her own and remains close to her mother. Through the research of historians and genealogists, aided by the amateur genealogist work of Millie, Tilson discovered she is the descendant of one of 272 slaves sold by Georgetown University to Louisiana in 1838 to help finance the institution. She works as an assessment testing coordinator at Southern and lives in Baton Rouge, although she still has a deep attachment to Maringouin and visits often. –
By Taylor Stirling
Jessica Tilson, nicknamed Millie, was born November 19th, 1981 in Lottie, Louisiana, to Debra and Emil Tilson. She spent the majority of her life in Maringouin, Louisiana until moving to Baton Rouge as a teenager. She is also a mother of three. Her mother earned a degree in Psychology from Southern University, and currently is a member of its faculty. Her father is currently working on repairing their home that was lost in the flood in the Summer of 2016. She attended an elementary school in Valverda, Louisiana, and later attended Livonia High School in Pointe Coupee Parish. She initially attended Southern University until she was twenty-one when she dropped out to assist her daughter with her gymnastic career. However, she has since re-enrolled into Southern University to pursue a degree in Microbiology, and aspires to enter law school to study medical malpractice. Tilson became interested in her family genealogy in the early 2000’s, but did not find out that she was a potential descendant of the 272 slaves sold by Georgetown University Jesuits until discovering a newspaper article including Maxine Crump about the matter in 2016. Tilson is currently working with the GU 272 to help discover more descendants, and seeks to spread awareness to both current and future generations about the legacy and families of enslaved African Americans. –
By Thailandria Daniels
Mary Williams Wagner
Mary Williams Wagner was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1954 to Emily Elizabeth Hawkins Williams and George Williams. Her parents were born in Maringouin, Louisiana, and Cleveland, Mississippi, respectively and they chose to raise their 15 children in a Catholic household. While her parents did not attend school past the eighth grade, she was raised and attended all of her lower education at St. Dennis Catholic School in Lockport, Illinois, where she lived a happy childhood. She attended her first three years of college at Southwestern College in Kentucky in order to study business administration until she moved to Joliet, Illinois, for her first marriage, which resulted in two daughters. There she continued her degree at Joliet Community College, ultimately completing her four-year degree at the College of St. Francis and becoming a police officer for the next twelve years. Her second marriage to an officer in the Marine Corps lead her to Hawaii, where she joined Oahu’s police department as an evidence specialist and gave birth to a son. After divorcing her husband of five years, she transferred to Maui’s police department as the Records and Identification Section Manager. Now she works on the island as the information technology section’s business continuity plan manager with her master’s in technology management. While in her younger years she did not participate much in political activism, now she is very active in her community and the country, holding many positions in local organizations, and also participating in democratic campaigns and movements such as the Women’s March on January 21, 2017. –
By Karly Johnson