Angela HelmToday 1:00pm
A Jesuit statue is seen in front of Freedom Hall, formerly named Mulledy Hall, on the Georgetown University campus, Sept. 1, 2016, in Washington, D.C. After renaming the Mulledy and McSherry buildings at Georgetown University temporarily to Freedom Hall and Remembrance Hall, 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. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
As reported by The Root when the story first broke, the storied academic institution of Georgetown owes its entire existence to the sale of enslaved black men women and children. The sale of these humans by Jesuit priests saved the school from bankruptcy; to this day it remains a thriving academic institution, thick with a rich endowment.
What Does Georgetown University Owe the 272…
And although Georgetown has apologized, and even offered an admissions advantage to the descendants of the 272 slaves it sold (talk about a “legacy” edge), some of those descendants are saying it’s not nearly commensurate for what their ancestors gave to the school.
Georgia Goslee, lead counsel for the GU272 Isaac Hawkins Legacy group, which includes 200 people, says her clients “do not believe Georgetown has fully atoned for the wealth it unjustly accumulated off the back of unpaid slave labor,” according to the Washington Post.
The GU272 Isaac Hawkins Legacy group has asked for a direct benefit for descendants. The Post reports that Thomas Craemer, an associate professor at the University of Connecticut, helped the group calculate their request for restitution, based on the idea that forced labor created wealth for others than the enslaved people. He also said descendants would otherwise have inherited money earned through their foreparents’ wages and interest.
In other words, gimme the loot.
Georgetown University’s ‘Reparations’ Plan…
Georgetown spokesman, Meghan Dubyak, recently said that the school has “taken initial steps” to right the wrong including a formal apology remaining two buildings for the descendants, and the admissions advantage. It has also offered professional-level genealogy for the offspring.
And Georgetown’s president, John DeGioia, doesn’t seem to want to really discuss the “r” word (i.e., “reparations”) and has already proposed amends that are linked to more education, even partnering with HBCUs.
But given that hundreds of thousands if not millions of black people now have college degrees but a fraction of the wealth of white Americans do, I’m for the cash, jack.
And 70-year-old Dee Taylor, 70, a direct descendant of Isaac Hawkins, whom the university recently named a building for, agrees, saying, “I believe Georgetown has the means to do much more.”
Georgetown for its part, says it wants to continue the “dialogue” with these ancestors of those original 272 persons.
However, Goslee responded: “Dialogue is always a good thing. But we can talk forever while the descendants are languishing, literally dying and in poor health and suffering from the vestiges of slavery . . . If there is real genuine concern, let’s take action.”
Taylor reportedly broke down crying when she said she read the bill of sale for a 10-year-old boy who was sold deep South to Louisiana during the 1838 sale. “He was on the bottom of the ship. It was wet. It was damp. It was cold,” she said.
“I have a 12-year-old grandson,” she continues. “When I look at him and I think about that 10-year-old little boy . . . I’m a mother. I’m a grandmother. I’m a great-grandmother. I can just see those babies on that ship crying, with their mothers shackled, or left behind. . . . I feel their pain and grief, knowing they would never see each other again.”
She has questions, namely, “How, in the name of Jesus, could the church I grew up in commit such a hideous sin and bury the truth for so many years?
Also, “How can Georgetown, which owes its existence to these ancestors, claim genuine atonement when descendant families were not at the table when recommendations for making amends were offered, discussed, and chosen?”
Finally adding, “They need to make it right, plain and simple.”