Slavery, Memory, & Reconciliation News


July 8, 2021 – Black Georgetown Rediscovered: Students Help Preserve History at Underground Railroad Hideout

Students enrolled in the Black Georgetown Rediscovered course toured the Mount Zion – Female Union Band Society cemeteries and helped document the estimated 9,000 African American residents of Georgetown who are buried at the historic site. Read more.

June 19, 2021 – Georgetown Honors Juneteenth, a Day To Commemorate Emancipation and the End of Slavery in the United States

As we honor Juneteenth – “June” plus “nineteenth” – and celebrate independence, we also recognize the struggle – historically and today – to achieve true freedom and justice for all.  Read more.

May 5, 2021 – Georgetown Preserves Memory, Charts Path for Lasting Change at Emancipation Day Conference on Legacies of Enslavement

This year’s Universities Studying Slavery Conference examined recent efforts to trace historical and contemporary legacies of enslavement and implement lasting change.  Read more.

November 19, 2020 – Georgetown Slavery Archive Provides Educational Outreach Events, Opportunities

Reaching out to the Georgetown community, the public and descendants through events, lectures and panel presentations – is a major part of the work of the Georgetown Slavery Archive (GSA), created in 2016 to digitize and house material related to the Maryland Province and the university’s historical ties to slavery. Read more.

October 21, 2020 – Georgetown University and Holy Trinity Complete Holy Rood Cemetery Restorations
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Major improvements to the historic Holy Rood Cemetery on Wisconsin Avenue have now been completed by Georgetown University and Holy Trinity Church.  Read more.

August 20, 2020 – Library Acquires Rare Logbook That Illustrates Life Aboard a Slave Ship

A recent gift to Georgetown University Library, now digitized and made available online, provides poignant and valuable insight into the Atlantic slave trade.  Read more.

August 3, 2020 – History of Enslavement Project to Create Common Database for Universities

A project designed to create a better understanding of the “lived reality of bondage at institutions of higher education” will be created by Georgetown and two other universities with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Read more.

June 19, 2020 – Georgetown Honors Juneteenth

The university announces that it will observe Juneteenth as a university holiday commemorating June 19, 1865 as the day the last enslaved individuals in America realized freedom. Read more.

April 16, 2020 – Transcription Event for Georgetown Slavery Archive Honors DC Emancipation Day

More than 100 Georgetown students, staff, faculty, alumni and descendants of individuals enslaved and sold by the Maryland Province of Jesuits in 1838 participated in a weeklong virtual transcription event to commemorate Washington, DC’s Emancipation Day.  Read more.

January 15, 2020 – Maryland Province and Georgetown Enhance Access to Archives With New Archivist

The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus is ensuring that the Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus (MPA), most of which is housed at Georgetown, will become more accessible to researchers and the general public. Read more. 

November 26, 2019 – New Undergrad Course Examines University’s Historical Connection to Slavery

History professor Adam Rothman is teaching an undergraduate course designed to examine the university’s historical connections to slavery, that connection’s legacy and efforts toward reconciliation. Read more.

October 9-12, 2019 – Universities Studying Slavery (USS) Fall 2019 Meeting

Georgetown faculty and staff attend the USS Fall 2019 Meeting, hosted jointly by Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati. Read more. 

August 20, 2019 – DC Jail Students Benefit From Georgetown’s Popular Problem of God Course

Through the university’s groundbreaking Prisons and Justice Initiative, Georgetown postdoctoral researcher Alphonso Saville taught a credit-bearing version of the course – The Problem of God and American Slavery – to about 27 students at the jail over the summer. Read more.

May 15, 2019 – Graduating Descendant of Enslaved Ancestors Clinches ABC News Reporter Job

When Elizabeth Thomas (G’19) crosses the stage to get her graduate degree from Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies, she’ll be thinking about her ancestors – two of the more than 270 enslaved individuals sold in 1838 by the Maryland Jesuits – and her future as a journalist. Read more. 

April 16, 2019 – Emancipation Day Celebrations Include Historical Documentation, Slavery Narratives

Georgetown observed Washington, DC’s Emancipation Day through a series of events focusing on the importance of historical documentation and reclaiming narratives surrounding the Civil War and slavery in America. Read more.

October 18-19, 2018 – Healing the Wounds of Slavery: Towards Mutual Recovery

UNESCO Slave Route Project and Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace co-organised an international symposium, hosted by the Berkley Center at Georgetown University on October 18-19, 2018. The Symposium aimed at healing the wounds of slavery and addressing the root causes of racial prejudices and discrimination derived from slavery, both past and present.

April 17, 2018 – Georgetown Joins Emancipation Day Conversations on Legacies of Slavery

Georgetown commemorated Washington, D.C.’s 156th observance of Emancipation Day by participating in an event at the National Museum of African American History and Culture that explored how various institutions are examining and reconciling their historic ties to slavery. Read more.

April 16, 2018 – Emancipation Day Event Honors Legacy of African American Educator, Nun

Anne Marie Becraft, a free woman of color, founded one of the first schools for black girls in Georgetown in 1820. Eleven years later she became one of the country’s first black nuns with the Oblate Sisters of Providence (OSP) in Baltimore, Maryland, taking the name Sister Mary Aloysius. Read more. 

April 12-14, 2018 – Universities Studying Slavery (USS) Spring 2018 Meeting

Georgetown faculty and staff attend the USS Spring 2018 Meeting, hosted by Hollins University. The meeting was organized by The Hollins University Working Group on Slavery and Its Contemporary Legacies. Read more. 

January 12, 2018 – Georgetown and Jesuits Share Proposed Guiding Principles for Dialogue, Partnership, and Collaboration

Georgetown and the Jesuits share a message with the Descendant Community, and propose a way forward to establish a long-term framework for partnership and dialogue. Read more.

Fall 2017 – Two Postdoctoral Fellows for the Study of Slavery Begin at Georgetown

Two postdoctoral fellows begin two-year appointments funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help Georgetown carry out its commitment to produce scholarship that helps the nation better understand and address its legacies of slavery, racism, and discrimination.

Fall 2017 – Descendants Enroll as Georgetown Students

Two descendants of the 272 enroll at Georgetown University to begin as undergraduates in the Fall of 2017. During Spring of 2018, two more descendants enroll at Georgetown University in graduate programs.

November 14, 2017 – Georgetown’s Initiative on Catholic and Social Thought and Public Life Hosts Panel on Racism

Georgetown hosts a panel event, Confronting Racism in our Hearts and in our Nation with US Rep John Lewis (D-Georgia).

August 29, 2017 – Enslaved Ancestors Remembered as Retiree Starts as Georgetown Undergrad

At 63, Mélisande Short-Colomb (C’21) prepares to embark on her educational journey at Georgetown as she honors her enslaved ancestors. Read more. 

April 20, 2017 – “Faith, Family and Freedom in the Maryland Jesuit Slave Community”

Professor of history and Working Group member Adam Rothman participates in Sotterley Plantation’s Slave Cabin Dedication Weekend when he speaks about “Faith, Family and Freedom in the Maryland Jesuit Slave Community.”

April 18, 2017 – Georgetown Apologizes for 1838 Sale of 272 Slaves, Dedicates Buildings

An apology from Georgetown and the Society of Jesus’ Maryland Province for their roles in the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved individuals for the university’s benefit took place today in the company of more than 100 descendants. Read more.

April 13, 2017 – Georgetown to Rename Building for Isaac Hawkins, One of 272 Enslaved in 1838 Sale

For Jessica Tilson, searching through birth and death certificates and other records of her ancestors brings each of them to life – including Isaac Hawkins, one of the 272 enslaved individuals who were sold by the Maryland Province of  Jesuits in 1838 to benefit Georgetown. Read more.

April 13, 2017 – Building to be Renamed for Pioneer Black Educator Anne Marie Becraft

The 19th-century free woman of color for whom Georgetown’s Anne Marie Becraft Hall will be named April 18 founded one of the first schools for black girls in Georgetown and later became one of America’s first black nuns. Read more.

April 7, 2017 – “The Future of the University”

Working group member and associate professor of government Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J. discusses Georgetown’s engagement with its institutional ties to slavery in the closing panel of the “Toward a Culture of University Ethics” conference at Boston College.

April 6, 2017 – “A Pound of Flesh”

Georgetown students, alumni, and friends perform a stage reading of “A Pound of Flesh,” a play by Katie L. Watson, following the Kennedy Institute of Ethics’ Bioethics Research Showcase. The play follows a white potential organ donor and a black potential recipient of a liver transplant who learn that they are connected by a great, great grandfather who was a slave owner. A post-play panel explores the artistic, sociocultural, historical, medical, and ethical components of the play.

April 6, 2017 – “Breaking Down Barriers: Social Justice, Cultural Memory and the Digital Humanities”

Professor Adam Rothman, a member of the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, participates in the keynote panel at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s fifth annual forum on digital humanities where he discusses the Georgetown Slavery Archive.

April 6, 2017 – Exploring Georgetown University’s Slave Past

New York Times writer Rachel Swarns moderates a conversation with Marcia Chatelain, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, a member of Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation and author of South Side Girls: Growing up in the Great Migration. This in-depth conversation frames a larger conversation about slavery in the District of Columbia, considers Georgetown’s role in the slave trade and reveals the new ways the institution is exploring this history.

March 30-31, 2017 – Georgetown Hosts Universities Studying Slavery Consortium

Georgetown hosts the spring 2017 meeting of Universities Studying Slavery (USS).

March 24, 2017 – Georgetown Continues Engagement with Descendants, Historical Relationship to Slavery

Georgetown’s steady engagement with its historical ties to slavery has included teach-ins, forums and meetings that involve descendants, university leaders and faculty members. Read more. 

March 24, 2017 – United Nations’ Remember Slavery Programme

A delegation of descendants, Georgetown staff and students attend the commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in New York.

March 3, 2017 – Harvard Conference on “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History”

Working group member and professor of history Adam Rothman participates in a panel discussion at Harvard University entitled “Slavery and Universities Nationally” along with Craig Wilder of MIT and James Campbell of Stanford. Harvard’s Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham moderates the panel.

February 24-25, 2017 – Black Movement Dance Theater’s 35th Anniversary Performance “Defiance”

A grant from the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation helps fund a short documentary (new window) about the founding of Black Movement Dance Theater.

February 16, 2017 – The Forum on the Future of Higher Education

Joe Ferrara, chief of staff in the Office of the President at Georgetown University, briefs the Forum on the Future of Higher Education on the slavery, memory, and reconciliation work occurring at Georgetown.

February 13, 2017 – Mellon Grant Helps University Advance Racial Justice Recommendations

$1.5 million grant (new window) from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was given to Georgetown to help carry out its commitment to produce scholarship so the nation can better understand and address its legacies of slavery, racism and discrimination. The five-year Mellon grant will assist the University in establishing a center for racial justice, hiring faculty experts in the field, supporting postdoctoral and graduate fellows and funding a series of visiting lecturers.

February 10, 2017 – Latin Letter Hackathon for Georgetown Slavery Archive

A team in the Classics Department produced a transcription and translation (new window) of a letter written in Latin—preserved by Georgetown’s Lauinger Library—for the Georgetown Slavery Archive (new window). The letter, written in 1836, outlines conditions placed on the possible sale of slaves to benefit Georgetown by Catholic leaders in Rome.

February 7, 2017 – Georgetown Alumni Club of Portland Hosts Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J.

Working group member and associate professor of government Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J., speaks to alumni (new window) about the Working Group on Slavery, Memory and Reconciliation, and updates on implementing recommendations.

January 24, 2017 – Descendants Visit the Special Collections

Descendants visit the Special Collections at Georgetown’s Lauinger Library to view documents related to the 1838 sale of their ancestors.

January 24, 2017 – Honorary Degree Ceremony Honoring Lonnie Bunch III

Georgetown confers an honorary degree upon Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. At the ceremony, a choir performs “We Choose to Remember” in honor of the descendant community. Read more.

January 16, 2017 – Debut Performance, We Choose to Remember

The annual Let Freedom Ring! concert sponsored by Georgetown and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts that honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. includes an original song composed by Let Freedom Ring! Music Director Nolan Williams, Jr. and commissioned by Georgetown to honor the descendant community titled, “We Choose to Remember.” Read more. 

January 13-April 30, 2017 – Glimpses of Slavery at Georgetown College

Exhibit in Georgetown’s Lauinger Library Kerbs Gallery displays documents that help tell the story of Georgetown’s connections with slavery.

January 10, 2017 – Teach-in for Faculty and Staff

The Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship and the Center for Social Justice host a teach-in to explore ideas for incorporating a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and reflections on the report of the Working Group for Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation into the curriculum throughout the spring semester. Read more.

December 3, 2016 – Associate Professor of History Marcia Chatelain at Brown University

Working Group member and associate professor of history Marcia Chatelain participates in the Slavery and Global Public History Conference at Brown University, sharing her experience on the Working Group and Georgetown’s efforts to reconcile with its history. Read more. 

December 15, 2016 – Interview with CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Craig Blankfein

CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Craig Blankfein interviews former Brown University President Ruth Simmons and Georgetown President John J. DeGioia about their respective universities ties to slavery and how institutions can confront this history.

December 14, 2016 – “Sold South: Tracing an Enslaved Community from Maryland to Louisiana”

The University of New Orleans’ Midlo Center for New Orleans Studies presents a panel discussion “Sold South: Tracing an Enslaved Community from Maryland to Louisiana.” Professor of History and Working Group member Adam Rothman participates along with several descendants. Read more. 

December 14, 2016 – Alumni Club of Boston: Discussion with Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J., on Georgetown’s Historical Connection to Slavery

Working Group member and associate professor of government Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J. explains the University’s historical connection to slavery to the Georgetown University Alumni Association Club of Boston.

December 14, 2016 – Georgetown Travels to Louisiana, Helps Facilitate a Forthcoming LAB Play

Associate professor of history and working group member Maurice Jackson, professor of theater and performance studies Derek Goldman and adjunct professor Ambassador Cynthia Schneider visit Louisiana to engage with descendants on upcoming projects, including a forthcoming play for The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (The Lab).

December 8, 2016 – “Reflections on Social Justice at Georgetown”

The University presents “Reflections on Social Justice at Georgetown,” as part of the Improvisation for Social Change course taught by Gibson Cima from the Department of Performing Arts, that includes a group performance to illustrate Georgetown’s historical relationship with slavery.

December 7, 2016 – W.K. Kellogg Foundation Conference: “The Role of Higher Education in Transformation and in Narrative Change”

President DeGioia participates in a panel discussion on “The Role of Higher Education in Transformation and in Narrative Change” at the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Summit, hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which is designed to facilitate small group conversations for racial healing and to explore how to bring racial healing to communities. Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, moderates the conversation that also included Cheryl Crazy Bull, president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund, and Virginia Sánchez Korrol, professor emerita at Brooklyn College.

December 1, 2016 – Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation: Updates Moving Forward

Slavery, memory, and reconciliation fellow James Benton joins associate professor of history and Working Group member Marcia Chatelain in a panel discussion at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies in downtown Washington, D.C.

November 12, 2016 – The 2016 North American Conference on British Studies

Georgetown co-sponsors and participates in the North American Conference on British Studies plenary at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The event features the University College London (UCL) Legacies of British Slave Ownership Project and several scholars UCL and Columbia University.

November 3, 2016 – Where Do We Go from Here: Georgetown University and Slavery, Black Catholics and the Jesuit Mission

The University of San Francisco presents, “Where Do We Go from Here? Georgetown University and Slavery, Black Catholics and the Jesuit Mission” with working group member Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J. (C’88), the University’s then-vice president of mission and ministry.

November 3, 2016 – Slavery, Jesuits, and Georgetown University

History professor and working group member Adam Rothman delivers the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Lecture on “Slavery, Jesuits, and Georgetown University.” This lecture is delivered at the National Archives and broadcast on C-SPAN.

October 25, 2016 – Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J., and the Jesuit Schools Network

Associate professor of government and working group member Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J., gives a talk to the Jesuit Schools Network on the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation.

October 18, 2016 – Associate Professor of History Maurice Jackson Visits Holy Trinity

Associate professor of history and working group member Maurice Jackson talks to 40 eighth-graders at Holy Trinity about Georgetown’s slavery, memory, and reconciliation work.

October 12, 2016 – “Georgetown, Slavery and Catholic Social Thought: A Dialogue about the Past, Present and Future”

Georgetown’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life moderates a discussion with students and faculty from the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation on how best to address and memorialize Georgetown’s historical relationship with the institution of slavery. Panelists discuss the importance of human dignity as a key tenet in Catholic social thought in guiding the work going forward.

Student working group members share reflections: Ayodele Aruleba (C’17)Connor Maytnier (C’17)

October 7, 2016 – The Hicks-Butler Family Visits Georgetown

Georgetown hosts descendants of Nace and Biby Butler on campus as part of their “Sacred Sites Pilgrimage” to historic locations in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. The group of more than 40 toured the campus, visited the Booth Family Center for Special Collections at Lauinger Library where documents related to the 1838 sale of their ancestors are preserved, and met with President John. J. DeGioia.

October 7, 2016 – President John J. DeGioia Addresses University Leaders

President John J. DeGioia addresses the University’s Board of Directors and Board of Regents during their fall meeting and moderates a conversation with three faculty members of Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation—historians Marcia Chatelain and Adam Rothman and Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J., of the government department.

September 30-October 1, 2016 – Universities Studying Slavery (USS) Fall 2016 Meeting

James Benton, Georgetown’s slavery, memory, and reconciliation fellow presents at the Universities Studying Slavery fall 2016 meeting, hosted by the College of William & Mary. Attendees explore how to best memorialize slavery on college campuses and provided updates on each school’s work.

September 1, 2016 – Georgetown University Shares Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Report, Racial Justice Steps

President John J. DeGioia shares his reflections on the report and recommendations from Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation and outlines initial steps the University will take to continue this work.

June 29-30, 2016 – President John J. DeGioia Travels to Louisiana

President John J. DeGioia travels to Louisiana and meets with dozens of descendants. He commits to continued dialogue with the descendants as Georgetown grapples with its historical relationship with slaveholding.

Article: Intent on a Reckoning with Georgetown’s Slavery-Stained Past

June 13, 2016 – President John J. DeGioia Travels to Washington State

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia travels to Washington state to meet with the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society and Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, a descendant of one of the 272 slaves sold in 1838.

June 3, 2016 – Reflections on Racial Injustice

As part of Reunion Weekend 2016, Georgetown holds a Hilltop Dialogue session for alumni entitled “Reflections on Racial Injustice.” The event included reflections by members of Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation – historians Rev. David Collins, S.J., Adam Rothman and Marcia Chatelain, with opening remarks by President John J. DeGioia.

Video: Reflections on Racial Injustice