When it was learned that Georgetown University sold 272 slaves, including children, to ensure the school’s economic viability nearly 180 years ago, officials issued the standard mea culpas to the descendants.
The university went on to name buildings for some relatives, and provided families with preferred admissions. But that’s not enough. Actually, nothing could ever be enough to make up for slavery and profiteering off the backs men, women and children.
Still, the families are calling for the university to atone “for the wealth it unjustly accumulated off the back of unpaid slave labor,” said Georgia Goslee, lead counsel for the GU272 Isaac Hawkins Legacy group, The Washington Post wrote.
At a news conference Wednesday, She refused to disclose how much the group is seeking from the university. And while thriving with a substantial endowment, a school spokeswoman said Georgetown’s president, John DeGioia, prefers to provide redress the families in the form of educational opportunities, including partnerships with historically Black universities.
“I don’t feel whole,” Dee Taylor, a descendant of Isaac Hawkins, a 65-year-old slave whose name was first on the bill of sale from 1838, said. “I believe Georgetown has the means to do much more.”
The New York Times reported last year that more than a dozen universities, including — Brown, Columbia, Harvard and the University of Virginia — have acknowledged their connection to slavery and the slave trade. But Georgetown’s slave sale, which was organized by the Jesuits, who founded and ran Georgetown, is striking because of its size, the Times noted.
Indeed, slavery and its aftermath are responsible for the Black-White wealth gap, which is only widened by inheritances. So of course Georgetown should make these families whole because without the blood, sweat and tears of their ancestors, the university likely wouldn’t exist as it does today.