Georgetown University announced Thursday that it will be offering "preferential status in the admissions process" to descendants of the 272 slaves the university sold in 1838, The New York Times reported. The sale, which the Times noted would be "worth about $3.3 million in today's dollars," helped Georgetown to pay off its debts during a financially difficult time. Slaves were taken off of plantations in Maryland and sent to Louisiana estates.
Though many universities — including Brown University and Harvard University — have acknowledged past ties to slavery, Georgetown is believed to be the first to make such significant strides towards atoning for its past. The New York Times called its admissions offering, not unlike the advantage given to the offspring of alumni, "unprecedented."
In a speech Thursday announcing the program, Georgetown President John DeGioia will also issue an apology, create a public memorial to the slaves the university sold, form an institute focused on the study of slavery, and rename two campus buildings to commemorate an enslaved African-American and an African-American educator. "We know we've got work to do, and we're going to take those steps to do so," DeGioia said.
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For more on Georgetown's atonement plan — including where it may fall short — head over to The New York Times.
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