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History of Enslavement







History of Enslavement

While the sad reality of the Society of the Sacred Heart's history with enslavement has been known for some time, it is only recently that research has been done to learn more about the lives and history of the people who had been enslaved. When the founders of the school, Mother Eugénie Audé and Sister Mary Layton, arrived in 1821, it is likely they received the assistance of enslaved persons, loaned to them by nearby families and the families of their students.  In 1823, we see the first record of the purchase of an enslaved person by the Convent of the Sacred Heart.  His name was Frank Hawkins.  The slave quarters in which his family and others lived are still standing on the grounds.

Without the contributions of the enslaved families, the mission of the Religious of the Sacred Heart would not have flourished.  Working alongside the Sisters, the women cooked, cleaned, sewed, did laundry, and gardened.  The men planted and harvested crops, tended the animals, put up fences, made bricks, helped with construction of new buildings, carried out repairs, and acted as drivers.  To read more about the lives and contributions of the enslaved individuals in Grand Coteau, visit

Never Forgotten

The names of the Enslaved Individuals who lived and worked on our campus are permanently inscribed on a plaque on the former slave quarters.  The history of their lives and our school's past with slavery is taught from the early years through adulthood.

We Say Their Names

In October 2018, the Descendants of the Enslaved Individuals on our Campus gathered for a powerful service on campus in which the names of the enslaved individuals were read aloud and remembered.  As vital members of our Sacred Heart community, this special group is integrally involved in campus life and improving racial diversity and equity within our school community.


 Cor Unum Scholarship

In September 2018, as part of ongoing work of reconciliation, the Society of the Sacred Heart announced the creation of the Cor Unum Scholarship to provide tuition assistance to African American students desiring a Sacred Heart education at Schools of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau and to provide professional development for faculty and staff and/or course curriculum to students on inclusion and diversity.