Georgetown Works Toward Reconciliation With Slave Descendants

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On Tuesday, Georgetown University continued its work toward reconciliation for its involvement in the 1838 sale of 272 slaves with the Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope.

In addition to the liturgy, the event included the renaming of two university buildings. Georgetown renamed Mulledy Hall as Isaac Hawkins Hall in a courtyard ceremony next to Dahlgren Chapel to honor Isaac Hawkins, the first of 272 slaves Georgetown sold. Anne Marie Becraft Hall, formerly known as McSherry Hall, was named for a Catholic nun who established a school in Georgetown for black girls.

Rev. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, spoke at the ceremony with great remorse for the Jesuit’s involvement in the Georgetown sale.

“Today the Society of Jesus, who helped to establish Georgetown University and whose leaders enslaved and mercilessly sold your ancestors, stands before you to say that we have greatly sinned,” he said.”We are profoundly sorry.”

The Liturgy and dedication is one of many ways the university has tried to confront its role in the the slave trade and move towards reconciliation.

In addition to reconciliation, the university has created the Institute for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies. In September 2016, President DeGioia also announced that Georgetown would give preferential admissions treatment to the decedents of slave families.

“We will give descendants the same consideration we give members of the Georgetown community in the admissions process,” DeGioia said.”We will also work to identify new ways to enhance access and opportunity for those who wish to attend college.”

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