Descendants of Enslaved Africans Sold By Georgetown Demand Reparations

imagesBy Free Radical

GU272 Isaac Hawkins Legacy Group, which represents the descendants of enslaved Africans sold to keep Georgetown afloat, are calling for direct restitution for the injuries incurred by their ancestors. In 2016, Georgetown University began executing a series of public relations strategies after it was discovered that in 1838, the now esteemed university, sold 272 Africans when it found itself in dire financial straits. That sum today would be more than $3.3 million.

Because that sum is so high, GU272 has announced that it is in talks with the university and will begin placing public pressure on it for remuneration. The entity’s lead counsel, Georgia Goslee expressed at a news conference Wednesday that her clients “do not believe Georgetown has fully atoned for the wealth it unjustly accumulated off the back of unpaid slave labor.”

These sentiments were shared by Dee Taylor, now 70, and a direct descendant of Isaac Hawkins, “I believe Georgetown has the means to do much more.” She continued, “How can Georgetown, which owes its existence to these ancestors, claim genuine atonement when descendant families were not at the table when recommendations for making amends were offered, discussed, and chosen?”

Since going public about the 1838 sale, Georgetown has offered a formal apology, renaming two buildings, preferential admissions for them, and professional genealogy services. The university has also proposed further dialogue to repair the historic wrong. Yet Goslee has argued that though dialogue can be constructive, it can also be used as a stalling tactic, “Dialogue is always a good thing. But we can talk forever while the descendants are languishing, literally dying and in poor health and suffering from the vestiges of slavery . . . If there is real genuine concern, let’s take action.”

In 2016, college uprisings gripped the nation as students of color protested their marginalization at schools across the country. Such protests resulted in a working group at Georgetown to investigate the university’s ties to slavery. The inquiry revealed not only the 1838 sale, but also that the university relied on products cultivated by enslaved labor and revenue generated from selling enslaved Africans since the 18th century.

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