The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 American Slavery’s Legacy across Space and Time grant program, which is a truly unique interdisciplinary research initiative, one that aims to examine the ongoing impact of racial slavery in the United States today through the lens of the GU272 descendant community.

The GU272 descendants are the distant sons and daughters of the African men and women who were owned by Georgetown University and then sold to a plantation in Louisiana in 1832 in order to keep the university solvent. This case offers a unique opportunity to examine how an entire community was transformed by the United States’ legacy of slavery and to ask broader questions about US historiography, such as how racial and ethnic groups have been systematically excluded from historical study and from the story America tells about itself.

The grant program awarded projects committed to data-driven social research and an understanding of racial inequality in its most intimate forms, and supported the production, collation, and dissemination of information relevant to the GU272 and their descendants. In response to the call for proposals, released in May 2021, the competition received a host of innovative and robust applications from professional researchers, artists, and community organizations.

From these applications, a selection panel of multidisciplinary experts has awarded five outstanding research projects, ranging from the preservation of archaeological artifacts and oral histories of GU272 descendants; to the curation of a public historical exhibition in Louisiana; to the development of pedagogical materials based on a multimedia theatrical production created by a GU272 descendent. The recipients of these grants, which foreground collaboration between scholars and communities impacted by racial inequality, are all engaged in building community-based research projects from the ground up and have showcased innovative research methods, new standards for ethical engagement, and an expanded vision of the “social researcher.”

The SSRC is very pleased to support these grantees, whose work seeks new ways to understand and present the history and legacy of slavery in the United States and simultaneously advances novel, inclusive models of social research. The grantees’ projects will contribute to the ongoing work of the American Slavery’s Legacy across Space and Time project, which is part of the Council’s Inequality Initiative and was incubated through the Scholarly Borderlands Initiative.

2021 American Slavery’s Legacy across Space and Time Grantees