WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Georgetown University and the group of Catholic priests that founded the Washington, D.C. school have apologized for selling slaves in 1838 in order to raise money to pay off the college’s debts.
The school has renamed two buildings in honor of two of the 272 people sold. Their descendants gathered on the Georgetown campus for a dedication ceremony Tuesday.
One building is named Isaac Hawkins Hall in honor of the first person listed in documents related to the sale. Another bears the name of Anne Marie Becraft, a free woman of color who taught Catholic black girls in Georgetown.
Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States president Rev. Timothy Kesicki said during a prayer service that the group has “greatly sinned” and is “profoundly sorry.”
After the ceremony, Georgetown’s Black Movements Dance Theatre performed.
“This is a moment for all of us to more deeply understand our history, and to envision a new future informed and shaped by our past and the values we uphold,” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said at the building dedication.
“Today the Society of Jesus, who helped to establish Georgetown University and whose leaders enslaved and mercilessly sold your ancestors, stands before you to say that we have greatly sinned,” said Kesicki. “We pray with you today because we have greatly sinned and because we are profoundly sorry.”
Georgetown is also offering a preference in admissions to descendants of those sold.
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