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Yesterday, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia publicly announced that the institution will make amends to the descendants of the slaves who were sold off almost two centuries ago.
“Insuring our history is alive to us, we must acknowledge that Georgetown University participated in the institution of slavery,” said DeGioia.
In 1838, two of the nation's most prominent Jesuit priests, sold off 272 men, women and children to pay down debts so that Georgetown University would survive. During a public press conference, with descendants of the slaves in attendance, DeGioia offered a formal apology and said the University would offer descendants preferential treatment in the admissions process, similar to that of children of alumni or legacies. The University will also create an institute for the study of slavery, will rename two halls and develop a public memorial.
Several high profile institutions have publicly acknowledged their historical connections with racism and slavery. The extent of Georgetown's response is unprecedented.
Craig Steven Wilder has written broadly about the intersection of slavery and American capitalism. He is professor of history at MIT and author of numerous publications including the book "Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery and the Troubled History of America's Universities."
Maxine Crump is a direct descendant of the one of the slaves sold by Georgetown. She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and is president and CEO of the non-profit organization "Dialogue on Race, Lousiana."
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