University Commits $1 Million To Racial Reparations

Georgetown University has committed  $1 million in funding to a Catholic order that has pledged to raise money for racial reperations.

The New York Times accounted this past Tuesday that a Catholic order has pledged to raise $100 million for the descendants of slaves owned by Georgetown University through a new foundation.  Georgetown’s president announced, in an email, that the school has contributed $1 million to “support the planning and assistance necessary to create the framework and structure for the Foundation.”  The university has stated that it is looking “forward to supporting and partnering with the Foundation moving forward.”

The Catholic order, in this case, is known as The Society of Jesus, or more commonly known as the Jesuits. They have partnered with the GU272 Descendants Association to launch the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation in order to raise money in part for reparations for the descendants of slaves of the order.

The GU272 Descendants Association is a non-profit organization that supports the “goals, objectives and aspirations” of the 272 enslaved people who were owned and sold to keep Georgetown College, which became Georgetown University, afloat in 1838.

University president John J. DeGioia announced, in an email to the student body, that the million-dollar donation was only the beginning of the school’s work to try and atone for its role in the slave trade.

“We now have the conditions in place for us to accelerate Georgetown’s work on a related effort which will further our community’s engagement with Descendants,” DeGioia said.

Back in October of 2019, the student body of Georgetown passed a referendum that committed the school to contribute over $400,000 a year in support of “community-based projects” that are to the benefit of the “Descendant community.” The student body voted overwhelmingly to add a semesterly fee of $27.20 per student that goes directly to GU272, according to Georgetown’s student newspaper. 

To date, Georgetown is the first university in the nation to create and maintain a collegiate reconciliation fund.

The school has gone through many changes in an attempt to scrub itself of its slave-owning past. Back in 2015, the school renamed buildings that were named after two men that played large roles in the school’s slave trade. A hall named after Thomas Mulledy was renamed “Freedom Hall” and a hall named after William McSherry was renamed “Remembrance Hall.”

More recently in 2017, two other buildings on campus were rededicated. The first to “Isaac,” the first enslaved person listed in the school’s 1838 sale document, and another to Anne Marie Becraft, a black woman who started a school in Georgetown for black girls.

The university’s Lecture Fund, a student group that allocates money to host guest speakers, stated that it will give a “meager” $42,500 of its $85,000 budget to help ride Georgetown’s campus of white supremacy.

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