“Nearly two centuries after Georgetown University profited from the sale of 272 slaves, it will embark on a series of steps to atone for the past, including awarding preferential status in the admissions process to descendants of the enslaved, university officials said Thursday. Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, who announced the measures in a speech on Thursday afternoon, said he would offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, including those who were sold in 1838 to help keep the university afloat. In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for an enslaved African-American man and the other for an African-American educator who belonged to a Catholic religious order. So far, Dr. DeGioia’s plan does not include a provision for offering scholarships to descendants, a possibility that was raised by a university committee whose recommendations were released on Thursday morning. The committee, however, stopped short of calling on the university to provide such financial assistance, as well as admissions preference….Dr. DeGioia said he planned to apologize for the wrongs of the past “within the framework of the Catholic tradition,” by offering what he described as a Mass of reconciliation in partnership with the Jesuit leadership in the United States and the Archdiocese of Washington.” 

This is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done. Later in the article, the writer states:

When Dr. DeGioia invited questions from the audience, a man in a gray suit took the microphone. “My name is Joe Stewart,’’ he said, “and I am a descendant of the 272.”

Mr. Stewart, a retired corporate executive and an organizer of a group of more than 300 descendants, expressed gratitude to the university’s working group on slavery and to Dr. DeGioia for their efforts. But he said that descendants, who had not been included as members of the committee, must be involved in decision making on these initiatives moving forward.

“Our attitude is nothing about us, without us,’’ said Mr. Stewart, who was flanked by five other descendants.

I agree with Mr. Stewart! Georgetown and its [predominately white] “committee” should not get to determine the redress that is needed to right the university’s past wrongs. If the descendants of these 272 slaves are not satisfied, maybe they should take legal action against Georgetown University since the university wouldn’t be around today had the school not profited from the labor and selling of black slaves.

Source: Rachel L. Swarns. “Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past.” New York Times. September 1, 2016.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s