Photo of slave sold by Georgetown is of a Charlotte woman’s ancestor | The Charlotte Observer – A glance at the century-old photo told her that Frank Campbell was kin. The high, broad cheekbones, sharp nose, receding hairline and sturdy build, shared by other men in her line, meant “that’s a Campbell.”
“It just took my breath away, and I just cried,” she said.
The tears fell from equal parts anger and hurt.
“Just the story of America’s history with slavery is bad enough, and to know my ancestors as African Americans were involved is horrific enough. But my Grandpa Frank just puts a face and humanity to it for many people who have not been able to grasp the depth of the pain of ancestors of slavery.”
Cellini, a Georgetown alumnus who is CEO of a data analytics firm in Cambridge, Mass., founded the Georgetown Memory Project to research the university’s slavery past. He called the discovery of Campbell’s photograph “momentous.”
The project’s researchers have found records documenting 212 of the 272 slaves sold, and 4,001 direct descendants like Campbell-Coleman. They will look hard now for more photographs of the former slaves, Cellini said.
“It puts a human face on another abstract, conceptual, historical tragedy,” he said. “It’s too easy for people to feel removed from the events of 1838, which was a very long time ago. For a lot of people, ‘the slaves’ are an abstraction like ‘the Vikings’ or ‘the French.’ They’ve been been nameless and faceless, but when we found the picture of Mr. Campbell they have a face. Now we can put a face to the travesty that took place in 1838.”