Georgetown University Continues to Make Amends to Descendants of Its Slaves

In 1838, Father Thomas F. Mulledy, president of Georgetown University at that time, authorized the sale of 272 slaves owned by the Society of Jesus in Maryland to a slaveowner in Louisiana in order to alleviate the university’s debt. William McSherry, another former president of the university, also sold slaves and advised Father Mulledy on the 1838 sale.

In 2015, Georgetown University President John DeGioia announced that buildings on the university’s campus named to honor the former presidents who participated in the slave trade would be renamed. One building will be called Isaac Hall in honor of one of the university’s former slaves. Becraft Hall will honor Anne Marie Becraft, a free Black woman who opened a school for African American girls in Georgetown in the 1820s.

President DeGioia also announced that a memorial to the slaves would be built on campus. The university will also establish an Institute for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies. And preferential treatment in university admissions will be given to the descendants of the university’s former slaves.

Recently, several descendants of the university’s former slaves traveled to New York City to participate as part of the university’s delegation to the International Day of Rememberance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade at the United Nations. On April 18, several descendants of the slaves that were sold by the university will come to Washington, D.C. , for the official ceremony to rename the campus buildings and participate in a “Liturgy of Rememberance, Contrition and Hope.”

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