By Amber Broaden, News Editor
Posted 1:30 PM EST, Thurs., Sept. 1, 2016
Georgetown University announced that they will give preferential admissions to descendants of slavery to apologize for disenfranchisement of the past.
The university’s president, John J. DeGioia, plans to deliver an apology on Thursday afternoon in order to discuss the initiatives designed to exonerate their wrongs of the past.
Georgetown, a private research university, was founded in 1789 and is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit higher education institution in the country. In 1838, 277 people—including men, women and children—were sold by the university for the total of $3.3 million dollars in today’s currency and shipped to plantations of the South.
A significant amount of this money made from the sale of these African descendants was allocated toward the benefits of the university. Paying off these debts helped catapult the institution to its current success.
The University plans to establish an institute dedicated to the study of slavery, as it also launches an admissions program that will award those who were descendants of slaves.
Last year, DeGioia launched the Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation, a “sustained and long-term process to engage the historical role of our University in the institution of slavery and its legacies in our nation,” according to the school’s website.
Georgetown is making this their mission to recollect the memory of slavery and slave who worked, and then sold off for the benefit of the university. As the university’s modern day success came from the population of jesuits who owned hundreds of slaves to work in their tobacco fields, in St. Inigoes, Maryland.
There have been 12 other accounts of universities publicly addressing their histories with slavery, such as Harvard University, Brown University, Princeton University, University of Alabama and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Today, the tuition at Georgetown University costs nearly $50,000 a year, while the annual income for African-Americans is at $43,000, reported by the CNN: Money.
Vice News reports this move by Georgetown represents the beginning of what we might call a “climate shift,” said Professor Frank Leon Roberts from New York University, who teaches a course on Black Lives Matter.
“One of the things that the movement for black lives has succeeded in doing is creating a political atmosphere wherein ideas that once seemed outrageous…now seems safe and common sensical,” he said.
If interested in watching the announcement, Georgetown University will be having a conversation on racial justice and Georgetown’s history with the institution of slavery, memory, and reconciliation today at 4 p.m.