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Slavery descendants' admissions preference at Georgetown U sets precedent




More than 175 years after profiting from the sale of 272 slaves, Georgetown University's leadership will give preference in admissions to descendants of the enslaved.
More than 175 years after profiting from the sale of 272 slaves, Georgetown University's leadership will give preference in admissions to descendants of the enslaved.
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More than 175 years after profiting from the sale of 272 slaves, Georgetown University's leadership will give preference in admissions to descendants of the enslaved.

Additionally, the school's president said Georgetown will offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery, along with other memorials to slaves whose work benefited the school.

Recently, Georgetown researchers contacted descendants of the 272, including 34-year-old Jessica Tilson, to inform them of their ancestors’ enslavement and sale, which saw them penned and shipped from Maryland to Louisiana plantations. Tilson told "The Washington Post" that, previously, her family's history could be traced back only a few generations. When she received the news about Georgetown's new plans for atonement, she burst into tears. “I know some of the descendants wanted something to happen for us. I didn’t want anything for me. I wanted them to do something for my ancestors. That was the part that made me cry," Tilson said. She added, “Some of the descendants wanted money — reparations.... Georgetown hand me money for raping beating and selling my ancestors? I refuse to take money that way.”

In recent years, Princeton, Brown, Emory, Harvard, and other storied colleges have had to reconcile with histories of profiting and transacting in the slave trade.

Read more at the Georgetown Slavery Archive (LINK).

Guests:

Adam Rothman, Member of Georgetown University's Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation; Professor of History at GU.

Leslie Harris, Professor of History, Northwestern University; while at Emory University; Harris co-organized the first academic conference on slavery at universities, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies,"  in February 2011.