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Georgetown U. to give admissions boost to descendants of slaves


Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia is keeping his word, it seems, on his promise to “make amends” for his school’s role in the American slave trade.

According to NBC News, DeGioia said today that Georgetown “will offer an admissions edge to descendants of slaves as part of a comprehensive atonement” for the school’s past actions.

Such an move is but one recommendation offered in a 100-plus page report by the “Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation.”

“The most appropriate ways for us to redress the participation of our predecessors in the institution of slavery is to address the manifestations of the legacy of slavery in our time,” the president said in a press release.

Under the report’s “Investment in Diversity” recommendations, the admissions leg-up would be specifically for descendants of those “owned by the Maryland Province.” What’s not spelled out, however, is how Georgetown will verify if an applicant is such a descendant.

From the NBC piece:

[President] DeGioia will offer a public apology Thursday afternoon for the 1838 sale and will also outline what the university plans to do to acknowledge racism in its past.

In addition to offering descendants the same preferential status in admissions that Georgetown currently offers children of alumni, the university will develop a memorial to the enslaved and will rename two buildings — one after Isaac Hall, a slave whose name is the first mentioned in the 1839 sale documents, and another in honor of Anne Marie Becraft, an African-American who founded a school for black girls in Georgetown’s neighborhood in 1827.

The moves come a year after DeGioia asked a group comprised of faculty, students, alums and staff with coming up with ways to address the university’s history of slavery.

Further proposals from the Working Group include sensitivity training “for all members of the community,” creation of an “Institute for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies at Georgetown,” and making sure “all the schools of the University are fully engaged in the attempts to address slavery’s direct and indirect legacy.”

Read the full NBC News article and Working Group report.

UPDATE: With regards to how Georgetown would verify a descendant’s status, according to Fox News, President DeGioia said the university “will reach out to th[e] descendants and recruit them to the university.”

The report states that “Genealogical research conducted by Georgetown and by other organizations, including The New York Times, has identified many living descendants of the slaves.”

MORE: Georgetown president promises to ‘make amends’ for school’s role in slave trade

MORE: ‘Racial subordination is the premise of the American project,’ Georgetown prof says

MORE: Prof says whites should ‘commit mass suicide’ for slavery; later says was ‘joking.’

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.