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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Loyola’s Legacy: Unveiling Hidden Truths of Slavery

Descendants of Enslaved Call Upon Loyola’s Community to Continue Acknowledging History
Abby Benner

This article is the second of a four-part series investigating Loyola’s connections to slavery.

As of 2024, over 8,000 descendants of the Georgetown University sale of 272 enslaved people have been located across the country and notified of their status through the genealogical work of Two of those descendants and cousins Melisande Short-Colomb and Dr. Lynn Locklear-Nehemiah have been part of the charge in serving as representatives on the President’s Task Force Examining Loyola’s Connections to Slavery, providing insight into their story and responsibilities of being a descendant.

Short-Colomb had been contacted by researchers at the Georgetown Memory Project to inform her of her ancestral connection to the GU272 sale. Upon learning this information, Short-Colomb was compelled to share the story of her family’s legacy to groups involved in this project and enrolled at Georgetown.

Neither Short-Colomb nor Locklear-Nehemiah were surprised at the discovery of their family lineage and history, as both had experienced previous knowledge and feelings of difference around their communities when it came to their identity.

Short-Colomb discovered her familial connection to GU272 through a researcher of the Georgetown Memory Project and felt exposed “to a relationship and connection to a much wider and bigger event than the oral history of my family.”

After taking a DNA test, Locklear-Nehemiah discovered her family history through Similar to Short-Colomb, she too wanted to explore what this meant for her family and her involvement in the lineage.

“I knew that my family was connected to the Jesuits, I just didn’t know they were enslaved by the Jesuits…it was information that I had to digest and grapple with and still continue to grapple with,” Locklear-Nehemiah said.

Ever since learning of her connections to the sale, Locklear-Nehemiah shared that they have been on a journey of restoration to revitalize the story of their family and bring them together in unity.

“This has been a long line of enslavement where families were enslaved but also families were together,” Locklear-Nehemiah said.

“I think one of the things that has been a big part of this journey is the restoration of our families and our families coming together and our stories being told,” Locklear-Nehemiah said.

Short-Colomb and Locklear-Nehemiah both expressed their feelings of excitement along with the importance of their invitation to the Loyola’s Presidential Task Force that examined the university’s connections to slavery.

“Going back to 2017, 2015 the narrative was created that this was a Georgetown thing when in truth, this is a Society of Jesus and a Catholic thing,” Short-Colomb said.

“As you begin to peel back layers of culpability, responsibility, inheritance, you know we talk about being descendants but we in fact are all inheritors,” Short-Colomb said.

When asked about what they want to share with the Loyola community, each descendant shared their hopes and sentiments for embracing a new approach to conversations and actions. For Locklear-Nehemiah, she encourages students “to be willing to have tough conversations,” and praises Loyola for taking significant steps in bringing the truth to light.

“Who are the conversations tough to have for? Is it tough for descendants? Is it tough for just everybody? What’s tough? Is it tough to hear, tough to say? Is it tough to place yourself as an American in a brief 247-year period that has been mythologized, Disney-fied, and told in such a way that made it palatable for a particular group of people,” Short-Colomb said

Short-Colomb performed ‘Here I Am,’ an original production that explored their history and an expansive account of 300 years of enslavement on March 19 and 20 in McManus Theatre. Alongside Dr. Locklear-Nehemiah, both descendants will continue to serve on the task force’s implementation team to see the tenants of the final report through the next stages.

Alexis (Lexi) Faison is a senior and student representative of the President’s Task Force Examining Loyola’s Connections to Slavery, a researcher, and an editor of the upcoming book: Untold Truths: Exposing Slavery and Its Legacies at Loyola University Maryland. In the third of our four-part series, she will explore the range of the universities studying slavery across the nation.

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