University Engagement

Georgetown is engaged in a wide variety of outreach activities that relate to its historical ties to slavery. These efforts include meeting with descendants in their hometowns and welcoming them to campus. They include visits to historical sites, giving lectures and hosting and attending cultural events across the country.

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 – 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 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

A $1.5 million grant 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 of a letter written in Latin—preserved by Georgetown’s Lauinger Library—for the Georgetown Slavery Archive. 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 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. Link: https://www.georgetown.edu/nmaahc-leader-lonnie-bunch-receives-honorary-degree

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.” Link: https://www.georgetown.edu/mlk-2017-celebration-breaking-silence

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. Link: https://docs.google.com/a/georgetown.edu/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe0nOPku3wIeaRcas2TdoDc89HZMPGFDIIAoQph5FDFyexADw/viewform?c=0&w=1

December 24, 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 slaveholding past. Link: https://www.brown.edu/initiatives/slavery-and-justice/global-public-history

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. Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/154155281715211/

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). Link: https://globallab.georgetown.edu/

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.

Video and event link

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 once of the 272 slaves sold in 1838.

June 3, 2016 – Reflections on Racial Justice

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.