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Georgetown University Plans to Address History of Slavery & Engage Descendants

Following the establishment of a working group in September 2015, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia announced today its report and next steps in the university’s ongoing process to acknowledge and respond to its historical ties to the institution of slavery.

Part of this history includes the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved people who worked on Jesuit plantations in southern Maryland. Proceeds of the sale went to the Maryland Province of Jesuits and were used to pay off debts at Georgetown.

“I am grateful to the many members of our community who have thoughtfully and respectfully contributed their perspectives and shared their insights,” DeGioia writes in a letter prefacing the report. “I look forward to continuing to work together in an intentional effort to engage these recommendations and move forward toward justice and truth.”

Specific next steps include:

Georgetown will offer an advantage in admissions to descendants of slaves with links to the school. Statement said said applicants would get the "same consideration we give members of the Georgetown community," usually a term for descendants of alumni.

The university will create a memorial for slaves whose work benefited the school, including the 1838 sale of 272 slaves who worked on Jesuit plantations in Maryland. The slaves were sold to plantations in Louisiana for $115,000, worth about $3.3 million today. Proceeds were used to pay off Georgetown debts.

Descendants of those slaves will be included in an advisory group for the memorial's creation.

The school will rename its Freedom Hall for Isaac, one of the sold slaves, and Remembrance Hall for Anne Marie Becraft, a black woman who created a school for African-American girls in the 1820s.

Read more here.