Descendant of enslaved people sold by Georgetown to perform her ‘Here I Am’

A world premiere challenge to imagine racial justice in America, written and performed by Mélisande Short-Colomb.

Our ancestors have waited patiently through centuries for us to come to the table of acknowledgement. Here I Am fulfills my desire to give voice to those families, including my own, and to our tenacity and strength as a people—to close the full circle where we began our American lives three centuries ago and where we are today. —Mélisande Short-Colomb

Mélisande Short-Colomb—a native of New Orleans who began her studies at Georgetown in 2017 at the age of 63—is a direct descendant of Abraham Mahoney and Mary Ellen Queen, who were among the 314 members of the group known today as the GU272, enslaved people owned and sold by Jesuits in 1838 to rescue Georgetown University from insolvency and bankruptcy. Her solo theater piece Here I Am, which she wrote and performs, premieres online in conjunction with Emancipation Day the week of April 16, 2021.

More than an autobiographical chronicle, Here I Am is a ritualistic experience that weaves narrative, music, and imagery, inviting the audience on a journey exploring Colomb’s loving and complicated relationship with the institution that enslaved her ancestors. Interrogating uncomfortable truths, rather than offering easy answers, Here I  Am challenges participants to bear witness and to reckon with their own histories, and to imagine the future of racial justice in America.

The world premiere virtual performance will be presented by the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics in partnership with the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program as follows:

Preview: Tuesday, April 13 at 7:00pm EST
Thursday, April 15 at 5:30 PM EST
Friday, April 16 at 7:30 PM EST
Saturday, April 17 at 3:00 PM EST

Register for the free online event at Eventbrite: bit.ly/HereIAm21 

Mélisande Short-Colomb serves on the Board of Advisors for the Georgetown Memory Project, is a founding Council Member of the GU272 Descendants Association, and was on the GU272 Advocacy Team. She was a leading voice in the GU272 student referendum, which passed with overwhelming student support in April 2019. She received the 2019 Fr. Bunn Award for journalistic excellence for commentary in support of the referendum.

This event is part of the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program’s 2020–2021 15th-anniversary season, “Seeds of Change: Reimagining the World,” programmed by Davis Performing Arts Center Artistic Director Prof. Maya E. Roth.

Supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by the Office of the President at Georgetown University. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

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