Black InterestsBlack Men

Georgetown University Owes its Existence to Slave Holdings by William Reed


Black Press Business/Economic Feature – Week of February 8, 2018

By our unpaid labor and suffering, black Americans have earned the right to the soil, many times over,

What does the story of what does the Georgetown University owe the descendants of the 272 slaves the Jesuit priests sold mean to the plight of Blacks?

Too many Blacks’ minds and energies are absorbed in mainstream partisan politics to pay proper attention to the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent report stating that the United States owes Americans of African descent reparations for slavery and other incidents of mistreatment, up to the present day.”  The group asserts that the reparations are due because of the disadvantages caused by 245 years of legalized slavery of black Africans in America, and that the United States has not confronted its legacy of “racial terrorism.  A long-running crime has been perpetrated against descendants of slaves.  Blacks are owed restoration of the rich history that slavery and segregation stole.  But no one stands up for Blacks to get their due.

Blacks’ “empowerment” is our electoral franchise.  Suffrage, political franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections.  If Black individuals, groups and movements focused on the fact: every Black household is owed $1.5 million we could make proper “reparations” occur  In this particular case, a collection of Georgetown professors, students, alumni and genealogists  is trying to find out what happened to the 272 men, women and children it sold.  And determine, what, if anything is owed to the descendants of slaves?

Georgetown University came under fire last fall, with students demanding justice for the slaves in the 1838 sale.

Nearly two centuries after Georgetown University profited from the sale of 272 slaves, the institution says it will embark on steps to atone for the past, including awarding preferential status in the admissions process to descendants of the enslaved, university official.

Back in the day, Georgetown, as did many of the country’s oldest and most prestigious institutions, including some private and public institutions in the South, were built by slaves or underpaid black laborers and craftsmen, and still bear their fingerprints. Some schools like the University of Virginia have acknowledged that their histories are blighted by slavery.  Major mainstream universities — including Brown, Columbia and Harvard— have publicly recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade.  The 1838 slave sale organized by the Jesuits, who founded and ran Georgetown, stands out.  At Georgetown, slavery and scholarship were inextricably linked. The college relied on Jesuit plantations in Maryland to help finance its operations. Slaves were often donated by prosperous parishioners.  The 1838 sale was worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars.

The legacy of slavery shows up in higher-than-average poverty rates, and lower investments among African Americans.  Slavery is a drawback that people don’t want to have to remember.  But the labor and the work product of those that were enslaved goes into the trillions of dollar. 

An apology by Georgetown and the Society of Jesus’ Maryland Province for their roles in slavery practices took  place where Rev. Timothy Kesicki, S.J., said “We pray with you today because we have greatly sinned and because we are profoundly sorry.” “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,”   In terms of concrete steps to rectify a history of profiting from slavery, Georgetown has made a dramatic move that, if accompanied by a substantial scholarship program, might be a model for other schools correctives for slavery.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via

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