Here I Am is a powerful autobiographical performance engaging the continuing legacy of slavery in American life, and offering a deeply personal window into the multifaceted history of an institution that benefited from slavery.  Mélisande Short-Colomb, a native of New Orleans, began her studies at Georgetown in 2017 at the age of 63.

Colomb is a direct descendant of Abraham Mahoney and Mary Ellen Queen, who were among the 272 slaves owned and sold by the Maryland Jesuits in 1838 to help keep Georgetown afloat.  Here I Am explores her loving and complicated relationship with the institution that enslaved her ancestors, while challenging audiences to consider the future of racial justice in America. Colomb will be joined on stage by acclaimed transatlantic vocalist, songwriter, and Grammy-nominated recording artist Somi, who is creating an original vocal music score. 

Mélisande Short-Colomb at the opening of the Gathering in 2019.

As Colomb explains, “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.”


Colomb’s personal story has been widely chronicled in numerous press outlets, including  interviews with Samantha Bee and PBS NewsHour, a major National Public Radio documentary, feature stories in The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and on NBC-TV, and a cover story in the AARP national magazine.