In 1838, Georgetown University fell on hard times. The school was in debt and in danger of closing. That's when the founders—two Jesuit priests—did the unthinkable.
To keep the college afloat, they decided to sell over 270 of their slaves. Men, women and children were part of the deal. Many wound up on plantations in Louisiana.
Last week, a Georgetown committee revealed steps they would take to atone for sale. Among them: a monument, and preferred admission to descendants of those sold.
Many of the descendants are scattered across the country, including here in Southern California. A Martinez spoke to Orlando Ward, the great-great-great-grandson of slaves Bill and Mary Ann Hill. Today, he works in South LA and he has a young son.
Ward said he applauds the university's effort but called it "underwhelming."
"Was there a way—is there a way—to get more of the descendants involved in the conversation? Is it an easy undertaking to bring them all in? Well, no. Are all of them interested in being a part of the conversation? Probably not. But those like myself that are should have an opportunity to chime in. That way, we're not in this vacuum of having our beliefs and Georgetown having their beliefs and hoping that they intersect somewhere," Ward said.
Click the blue audio player to hear the full interview.