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Published On: Thu, Feb 15th, 2018

Descendant group attacks Georgetown, Jesuits over historic involvement in slavery, demands cash reconciliation

While Georgetown University and the Jesuits have attempted to make amends for the institution’s involvement in slavery, members of the Descendant community remain unsatisfied, demanding cash.

“Following many conversations and dialogue with members of the Descendant community, the University and the Jesuits earlier this month reached out to members of the Descendant community to propose a framework for long-term dialogue, partnership and collaboration,” a campus representative told The College Fix in an email.

Racist poster from 1866 – Library of Congress

“Georgetown and the Jesuits are committed to working with Descendants in a process that recognizes the terrible legacy of slavery and promotes racial justice,” the statement added. “Georgetown has been working to address its historical relationship to slavery and will continue to do so.”

“… We believe that this kind of collaborative, forward-looking approach is the best path toward reconciliation and responding to the challenges of racial injustice today.”

The “Descendant community” consists of families of more than 200 slaves whose sale nearly two centuries ago benefited Georgetown University.

Caving to pressure from the group, campus leaders have already renamed two buildings, created a policy providing preferential admissions treatment to descendant applicants, and drawn up plans to establish an institute for the study of slavery.

The Hoya notes that the group considers this “symbolic gestures” and are not “commensurate with the epic atrocity committed and its subsequent impact on generations of descendants.”

“Let me be very clear: Georgetown University owes its very existence to the ancestors of Dee Taylor and Vincent Williams, yet the restitution has been conspicuously absent from the actions taken by the school so far to reconcile with the descendant community,” Georgia Goslee, lead counsel for the group, said.

“We call on Georgetown to initiate a sustained and progressive discussion and respond to the proposal.”

The Fix confirms they’ve reached out multiple times but the “group refuses to say how much money it seeks despite multiple requests….” while the Hoya notes that “an associate professor of public policy at the University of Connecticut helped the group calculate the amount of requested restitution by using “the impact that unpaid and forced labor would have had on the descendants’ ancestors ability to work and their subsequent incomes, as well as the inheritance that descendants could have received.”

Campus leaders, in their statement to The College Fix, said working with the overall community amid these new cash demands continues a productive dialogue.

“Since 2015, Georgetown has been working to address its historical relationship to slavery and will continue to do so,” according to their statement. “Georgetown has taken initial steps to seek reconciliation, beginning with offering a formal apology to Descendants; renaming two buildings, including one for Isaac Hawkins, the first person named in the 1838 sale; and offering Descendants the same consideration in admissions that it gives members of the Georgetown community.”

“Since President DeGioia traveled to Louisiana in June 2016, Georgetown has met with many Descendants and heard many important ideas about how we might move forward together.”

About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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