Tag: enslaved African-Americans

Betsey Stockton and James Collins Johnson, Former Slaves with Ties to Princeton University, Have Campus Locations Named in their Honor

Betsey Stockton (photo via jbhe.com)
James Collins Johnson (photo via paw.princeton.edu)

via jbhe.com

The board of trustees of Princeton University in New Jersey has voted to honor two former slaves who played a role in the university’s early history. A new green roof garden at the Firestone Library will honor Betsey Stockton and an arch in the East Pyne building on campus will honor James Collins Johnson.

Betsey Stockton was born into slavery in Princeton at the end of the eighteenth century. She worked in the home of Ashbel Green president of Princeton University. After gaining her freedom, she established a missionary school for native Hawaiian children. She later started a school for Black children in Philadelphia and taught for 30 years in the only public school in Princeton for African American children. Stockton died in 1865.

Jimmy Johnson was a fugitive slave who arrived in Princeton in 1839. He worked as a janitor until 1843. That year, a student recognized him and had him apprehended as a runaway slave. Local residents raised money to buy Johnson’s freedom and he started a small business selling snacks to Princeton students. Johnson died in 1902. (To learn more of Johnson’s story, click here.)

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/05/princeton-to-name-two-campus-locations-after-former-slaves/

Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, Descendant of Enslaved Persons Sold to Cover Debts by Georgetown University Leaders in 1838, Meets with its President to Discuss Amends

Patricia Bayonne-Johnson met with John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown University, in Spokane, Wash., on Monday. Ms. Bayonne-Johnson is a descendant of two of the 272 slaves sold by the university in 1838. (Credit: David Ryder for The New York Times)

article by Rachel L. Swarns via nytimes.com

More than a century after Georgetown University used some of the profits from the sale of 272 enslaved African-Americans to help ensure its survival, John J. DeGioia, the university’s president, took a first step on Monday toward making amends to their descendants.

He walked into the public library in Spokane, Wash., for a private meeting with Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, a great-great-great granddaughter of Nace and Biby Butler, two of the enslaved persons who were sold in 1838 to help keep the college afloat.

The 45-minute meeting, which was followed by a lunch at the nearby Davenport Hotel, may well have been a historic one.

More than a dozen universities have recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. But historians say they believe this is the first time that the president of an elite university has met with the descendants of slaves who had labored on a college campus or were sold to benefit one.  “I came to listen and to learn,” Mr. DeGioia said in an interview, describing the discussion as “moving and inspiring.”

Ms. Bayonne-Johnson, an amateur genealogist and retired teacher, said she believed Mr. DeGioia was willing to take necessary steps “to honor the sacrifice and legacy” of her ancestors.  “He asked what could he do and how could he help,” she said in an interview. “It was a very good beginning.”

The meeting comes as officials at Georgetown continue to grapple with how to address the college’s complicity in the slave sale. The slaves, who were owned by the Jesuit priests who founded and ran the college, were sold for about $3.3 million in today’s dollars.

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