Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

“Exactly where we left them”

October 19, 2017

Frank Campbell, one of the 272 enslaved people sold in 1838, is photographed here in 1906, still working on a plantation in Southern Louisiana.

Courtesy of the Georgetown Memory Project

Frank Campbell, one of the 272 enslaved people sold in 1838, is photographed here in 1906, still working on a plantation in Southern Louisiana.

A hundred and six miles and worlds away from the urban landscape of New Orleans and Tulane University sits Maringouin, a small, rural town with a population of 1,100 and a per capita income of $10,000. According to Cellini, 900 of them are descendants of the 272 enslaved people sold to Southern Louisiana plantations in 1838.

Among the 900 are Thomas’ grandfather and Harper Royal’s grandmother. Also included in the 900 are descendants of Frank Campbell, one of the 272 enslaved people sold by Georgetown. The Georgetown Memory Project located a photo of Campbell, who was 24 when he was sold to a sugar plantation in Terrebonne Parish and 96 when the photo was taken, still working on a sugar plantation.

GMP has since located 359 of Campbell’s descendants, many of whom live, in Cellini’s words, “exactly 150 feet from the property line of that sugar plantation.”

“The people who built our university and their descendants are exactly where we left them in 1838,” Cellini said.

For the people of Maringouin, many of whom lack access to basic services, legacy status at Georgetown may not be an adequate measure to address the legacies of enslavement.

“Maringouin is pretty rural, it’s a country town. A lot of people live in poverty,” Thomas said. “But I definitely feel like legacy status isn’t enough … just because I took the opportunity to get an education and further my degree doesn’t mean that’s what everybody wants for them, and every other descendent is owed just as much as I am … But I do think it is a step in the right direction.”

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