Hidden History: Georgetown University making amends with slave descendants

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WRIC) — Georgetown University in Washington, D.C is one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world. But it was the sell of slaves that kept it’s doors open in the early 1800’s. The university is now making amends with those slave descendants in Louisiana.

The small town of Maringoin in Louisiana and our nation’s capitol are joined together at the hip with a connection dating back hundreds of years, with voices crying from their graves.

Georgetown has produced a president of the United States, two supreme court justices, more than 20 Rhodes scholars and a NCAA championship basketball team.

Fred Hickman said the town just west of Baton Rouge has a history with selling slaves.

“Well, dozen of acres of land, most sugar cane fields are owned by the descendants of the 272 slaves are buried right here in this small cemetery and many of those slaves were bought and sold by the priests at Georgetown University,” Hickman said.

Maxine Crump is the great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Hawkins, who died in 1902 at 70-years-old. Hawkins was aboard one of the slaves ships and was one of the 272.

“When I got the call telling me that there were names of slaves that were sold from Georgetown, that some of them were probably my relatives,” Crump said. “As soon as he mentioned the name Cornelius Hawkins, it stood out to me, this is real.”

George University has acknowledged and embraced the debt it owes these folks, and is doing something tangible to correct the wrong.

John Degioia announced the university’s plans to make amends. Among the reparations, the school will offer priority admissions to the descendants of the slaves it sold.

“To be able to walk this ground, which was once walked by some of the 272 that were sold in 1838 and to be able to experience this place is part of me trying to understand how best to bring immediacy of all of this into our current reality,” Degioia said.

Georgetown University continues to work with historians around the country in an attempt to locate other descendants of the salves sold to fund the university.

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