In 1838, the Jesuits who ran Georgetown University sold 272 enslaved men, women, and children from Jesuit plantations in Maryland to settle university debts, reports CNN. That bit of history was almost lost in the looming legacy that is the prestigious university. But given the current racial and social climate, Georgetown officials have since apologized for their role in contributing to slavery in recent years.
Descendants of those enslaved people who were sold have reconnected over the years, forming the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation. The organization is committed to investing in the descendants’ education in perpetuity, funding programs, supporting community leaders engaging in anti-racism advocacy, and supporting elderly descendants for the remainder of their lives.
And now Georgetown University and the Jesuits have committed $27 million in monetary and land reparations to the organization, the next step in atonement to reconcile the university’s sordid past.
The University has committed $10 million. And the Jesuits have pledged another $17 million, which is the first contribution of their larger $100 million commitment to the foundation. The organization’s aim is to raise $1 billion to support their mission.
“These contributions from Georgetown University and the Jesuits are a clear indication of the role Jesuits and other institutions of higher education can play in supporting our mission to heal the wounds of racism in the United States, as well as a call to action for all of the Catholic Church to take meaningful steps to address the harm done through centuries of slaveholding,” said Monique Trusclair Maddox, CEO of the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation.
Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia said it’s an honor to support the work of the foundation.
“[The foundation has an] extraordinary vision to uplift Descendant communities, support the educational aspirations of Descendants, and promote racial healing in our nation… It is an honor for our University to have the opportunity to contribute to their efforts,” said DeGioia. “The difficult truths of our past guide us in the urgent work of seeking and supporting reconciliation in our present and future.”
Learn more about the work of the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation at www.descendants.org.
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