Georgetown Apologizes for 1838 Sale of 272 Slaves, Dedicates Buildings
On April 18, 2017 Georgetown University apologized for its and the Society of Jesus’ Maryland Province's roles in the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved individuals for the university’s benefit, an event that took place on the same date so many years before. In the audience were more than 100 descendants, one of which was Sandra Green Thomas, a descendant of the Harris and Ware families and president of the GU272 Descendants Association, who spoke at length about the 272 enslaved people, her ancestors and her Catholic faith.
The university has permanently changed the names of several of its buildings. Mulledy Hall was renamed Issac Hawkins Hall after the first enslaved person listed in the 1838 sale document. Anne Marie Becraft Hall, formerly known as McSherry Hall and renamed Remembrance Hall two years ago, is named for a free woman of color who established a school in the town of Georgetown for black girls.
“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,” said Rev. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, during a morning Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope. “We pray with you today because we have greatly sinned and because we are profoundly sorry.”
Read the full Georgetown Statement.