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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest