Georgetown University Tries to Make Amends for its Role in Slavery

In 1838, the prestigious university benefited from the sale of 272 slaves.


Georgetown University, which in 1838 profited from the sale of 272 slaves, will begin to award the descendants of those slaves admission advantages typically reserved for families of the Catholic school’s alumni, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

University president John DeGioia announced the school will also build a public memorial honoring those slaves on its Washington, DC, campus and issue a formal apology for its ties to slavery. In a statement, he said the prestigious Jesuit school intended to work directly with the descendants both on campus and in the communities they are from.

“The most appropriate ways for us to redress the participation of our predecessors in the institution of slavery is to address the manifestations of the legacy of slavery in our time,” DeGioia said in the statement.

The unprecedented efforts follow a report conducted by a committee composed of Georgetown staff and alumni, who were tasked to make recommendations on how the school could best amend for its direct role in slavery. Last year, students organized campus-wide protests demanding the school confront its history. MIT Professor Craig Wilder told the Times that the plan “goes farther than just about any institution” to reconcile past ties to slavery.

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

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