Ge­orge­town of­fers ad­mis­sion boost to atone for slave past

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — Ge­orge­town Uni­ver­sity will give pref­er­ence in ad­mis­sions to the de­scen­dants of slaves owned by the Mary­land Je­suits as part of its ef­fort to atone for prof­it­ing from the sale of en­slaved peo­ple, the pres­i­dent of the prom­i­nent Je­suit uni­ver­sity an­nounced Thurs­day.

Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent John DeGioia made the an­nounce­ment as he re­leased the rec­om­men­da­tions of a school com­mit­tee that was cre­ated last year to study Ge­orge­town’s ties to slav­ery. The uni­ver­sity also plans to es­tab­lish an in­sti­tute for the study of slav­ery, and to cre­ate a public me­mo­rial hon­or­ing slaves from whom Ge­orge­town ben­e­fited.

“We must ac­knowl­edge that Ge­orge­town Uni­ver­sity par­tic­i­pated in the in­sti­tu­tion of slav­ery,” DeGioia said at a cam­pus gath­er­ing Thurs­day. “There were slaves here on this hill­top un­til eman­ci­pa­tion in 1862.”

In 1838, two priests who served as pres­i­dent of the uni­ver­sity or­ches­trated the sale of 272 men, women and chil­dren for $115,000, or roughly $3.3 mil­lion in to­day’s dol­lars, to pay off debts at the school.

The slaves were sent from Je­suit plan­ta­tions in Mary­land to Louisiana, “where they la­bored un­der dread­ful con­di­tions,” and fam­i­lies were bro­ken up, ac­cord­ing to a re­port is­sued by the school com­mit­tee.

The trans­ac­tion was one of the most thor­oughly doc­u­mented large sales of en­slaved peo­ple in his­tory, and the names of many of the peo­ple sold are in­cluded in bills of sale, a trans­port man­i­fest and other doc­u­ments.

Ge­nealog­i­cal re­search has iden­ti­fied many liv­ing de­scen­dants of the slaves.

The uni­ver­sity will reach out to those de­scen­dants and re­cruit them to the uni­ver­sity, DeGioia said.

JAC­QUE­LYN MARTIN/AP

Stu­dents walk past a Je­suit statue Thurs­day in front of Free­dom Hall at Ge­orge­town.

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