Seeds: The indelible connection between the history of the United States and the slave labour upon which the nation was built does not only appear in the stories of the Founding Fathers, but also in the creation of some of the country’s most well respected universities. In the year 1838, Georgetown University sold 272 slaves to plantations in Louisiana in order to pay off their debts and secure financial stability.
Core: Amongst the recent wave of activism on college campuses across the country, Georgetown’s involvement in the slave trade has recently caught the attention of students and faculty alike. Using #GU272, activists protested the names of two buildings on campus that honored two of the men involved in the sale of the slaves. Georgetown has decided how they will attempt to begin to make amends, read more in the Leaves.
Skin: In April, The New York Times printed a front page article exploring the university’s involvement in the slave trade. This sparked a national conversation not only about Georgetown specifically, but also about the intrinsic link between slavery and many of the oldest universities across the country, including Brown, Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Virginia.
Leaves: In light of these recent discoveries, Georgetown is now attempting to make amends with its troubled past. Some argue that a memorial to honor the slaves sold in 1838 should be constructed, while others believe that, as a form of reparations, scholarship funds should be established for the descendants of those slaves. Georgetown has decided to give preference in admissions to the descendants of these slaves.
Food For Thought: Do you think Georgetown should attempt to pay reparations to the descendants of these slaves? Should some of the unsavory actions of university contributors be ignored when naming buildings?