Tag: John J. DeGioia

Georgetown University Renames Building after Isaac Hawkins, an Enslaved Person Sold in 1838 to Pay Off School Debts

Georgetown’s Freedom Hall Renamed Isaac Hawkins Hall (photo via thehoya.com)

article by Brittney Fennel via jetmag.com

The effects of slavery are still being felt in 2017 and, in an effort to make amends for profiting from the sale of 272 Maryland enslaved people in 1838 to pay off school debts, Georgetown University has renamed two buildings on their campus to honor those who were sold.

The slave sale was conducted by two Jesuit priests and was worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars. They have renamed one building Isaac Hawkins Hall to honor the first person listed in documents related to the sale. Another building was renamed after Anne Marie Becraft, a free Black woman who taught Catholic Black girls in what was then the town of Georgetown.

This is just one of the many steps the university is taking in order to make amends for the part they played during a painful time in U.S. history. During a speech Thursday afternoon, Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, announced the school would create an institute for the study of slavery and there will be a public memorial to the enslaved people whose labor benefited the school.

Dr. DeGioia also offered the descendants of all slaves whose work helped Georgetown University an advantage in admission which is similar to what they offer children and grandchildren of alumni. Many colleges have tried to hide the fact they benefited from slave labor, but at least Georgetown is not shying away from facts and is owning up to their actions.

Source: Georgetown University Will Name Two Buildings After Maryland Slaves – JetMag.com

Georgetown University to Offer Preferred Admissions Status to Descendants of Slaves Sold in 1838 to Save Institution

Georgetown University in Washington, seen from across the Potomac River. The institution came under fire last fall, with students demanding justice for the slaves in the 1838 sale. Credit (Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times)

article by Rachel L. Swarns via nytimes.com

Nearly two centuries after Georgetown University profited from the sale of 272 slaves, it will embark on a series of steps to atone for the past, including awarding preferential status in the admissions process to descendants of the enslaved, officials said on Wednesday.

Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, who will discuss the measures in a speech on Thursday afternoon, also plans to offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, including those who were sold in 1838 to help keep the university afloat.  

In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for an enslaved African-American man and the other for an African-American educator who belonged to a Catholic religious order.  So far, Mr. DeGioia’s plan does not include a provision for offering scholarships to descendants, a possibility that was raised by a university committee whose recommendations were released on Thursday morning. The committee, however, stopped short of calling on the university to provide such financial assistance, as well as admissions preference.

To read full article, go to: Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past – The New York Times

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.

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

Georgetown University Commits to Addressing Racial Injustice, Establishing African-American Studies Dept.

georgetown university logo

article via jbhe.com

John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., made a major commitment to address racial issues on campus. Last fall students staged a sit-in outside the president’s office demanding the university address its past ties to slavery, increase the number of Black faculty on campus, and begin an ongoing and discussion of racial issues confronting the university.

President DeGioia stated that the university would create a major in African American studies and create an academic department in the field or a larger interdisciplinary program in the discipline. He also said that the university would establish a new research center “focused on racial injustice and the persistent and enduring legacy of racism and segregation in the American experience.” He vowed to recruit an appropriate number of faculty members to support the research center and African American studies initiative and to hire a new senior executive to oversee these programs.

RELATED:  Georgetown University Renames Two Buildings on Campus That Honored Men with Ties to Slavery

“I hope to encourage all of us to pick up the pace – to commit to a more energized effort to address what has been the besetting conflict – evil – of our American society – racial injustice,” DeGioia said in an address to the university community. “For a place like Georgetown, it is of special importance for us to recognize this history – to recognize its implications for our nation and our responsibilities to one another.”