(GEORGE CURRY MEDIA)—Amid the pomp and circumstance of these weeks’ college and university graduation ceremonies, it’s worth noting the “excavation projects” going on at some of them and in higher education generally. What’s being dug up is more evidence of the depth and breadth of America’s betrayal of Black Americans and its own ideals.
Specifically, during this past year, we’ve learn how some number of colleges and universities were complicit in maintaining slavery, and supporting White supremacist ideas throughout the following 100 years.
One particularly poignant example of that can be found in an April 16, New York Times article noting that in 1838 in order to save their badly-mismanaged institution, Georgetown University leaders, Jesuit priests, sold 272 African Americans held in bondage on the university’s Maryland plantations. The sale achieved its purpose. Georgetown was saved; the enslaved black men, women and children, many of whom were being split from their families, were not. “The university owes its existence to this history,” Adam Rothman, a Georgetown historian, told the Times.
That Georgetown was a slaveholding institution has been known for decades; university officials of that era kept meticulous records of who they were while the university “owned” them and of the sale that sent them to much harsher conditions on plantations in Louisiana.