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 in Washington announcedThursday.
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 on 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.