Catholic leader apologizes for Georgetown's slave sale

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 21, 2017

The school has renamed two buildings in honor of two of the 272 people sold.

FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2016, file photo, students walk past a Jesuit statue in front of Freedom Hall, center, formerly named Mulledy Hall, on the Georgetown University campus, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Washington. Another will bear the name of Anne Marie Becraft, a free woman of color who taught Catholic black girls in what was then the town of Georgetown. Another structure was named Isaac Hawkins Halls to honor the first black man the school sold to slavery.

Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States president Rev. Timothy Kesicki said during a prayer service that the group has "greatly sinned" and is "profoundly sorry".

Georgetown is also offering a preference in admissions to descendants of those sold. Thomas F. Mulledy is the past university president who authorized the sale of the 272 enslaved people to a Louisiana plantation. She later joined the Oblate Sisters of Providence. "We lay this truth bare - in sorrowful apology and communal reckoning". "Our history has shown us that the vestiges of slavery are a continuum that began with the kidnapping of our people from our motherland to keeping them in bondage with the brutality of American chattle slavery, Jim Crow, segregation ... the school-to-prison pipeline and the over-incarceration of people of color".

The leader of the Roman Catholic religious order that helped found Georgetown University in Washington D.C. apologized Tuesday (April 18) for the university's role in selling slaves in the 1800s, according to the Religion News Agency.

Karran Harper Royal, another descendant, thanked Georgetown for its steps toward acknowledging its ties with slavery, particularly the students who took their concerns about the university's history to the administration in 2015.

After the ceremony, Georgetown's Black Movements Dance Theatre performed.

One of Hawkins' descendants, Mary Williams-Wagner, said other efforts at reconciliation were still needed, such as identifying all descendants of the slaves sold by Georgetown.

"We offer this apology for the descendants and your ancestors humbly and without expectations, and we trust ourselves to God and the Spirit and the grace He freely offers to find ways to work together and build together", Georgetown President John DeGioia said at the religious service, according to U.S. News.

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