Georgetown University announced yesterday that it will give admissions preference to the descendants of slaves that were once sold to the financial benefit of the school. In 1838, the Jesuits who ran Georgetown sold off 272 slaves to settle some debts, profiting what would amount to about $3.3 million today. Those slaves sold to Louisiana plantation owners. Families were destroyed. Destinies were altered. Georgetown has researched and found some living descendants of those slaves whose labor and value Georgetown once benefited from. The school is making an effort at saying sorry by offering preferential consideration – the same as is received by legacy applicants, if your parents or grandparents went there. UVA, Brown and Harvard have taken steps to try to make up for participating in the slave trade, but Georgetown is the first ever to give admissions preference.
University president Dr. John DeGioia said to an audience of students, faculty and slave descendants, “This community participated in the institution of slavery. This original evil that shaped the early years of the Republic was present here. We have been able to hide from this truth, bury this truth, ignore and deny this truth. As a community and as individuals, we cannot do our best work if we refuse to take ownership of such a critical part of our history. We must acknowledge it.”