Georgetown University and the Jesuits are pledging $27 million in donations to support the descendants of hundreds of enslaved people who were sold in the 19th century to fund the university, a non-profit announced on Wednesday.
The Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation said the gift includes $10 million from Georgetown University and a total of $17 million from the Jesuits in both money and plantation land where people were enslaved.
“These contributions from Georgetown University and the Jesuits are a clear indication of the role Jesuits and other institutions of higher education can play in supporting our mission to heal the wounds of racism in the United States, as well as a call to action for all of the Catholic Church to take meaningful steps to address the harm done through centuries of slaveholding,” Monique Trusclair Maddox, CEO of the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation and chair of its board of directors, said in a statement.
In 1838, the Jesuits who ran Georgetown University sold 272 enslaved children, women and men from Jesuit plantations in Maryland to pay off the university’s debts, according to the university.
Officials representing Georgetown and the Jesuits apologized for the 1838 sale in recent years, CNN previously reported.
The gift is part of a plan to raise $1 billion for the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation. In 2021, the Jesuits announced their commitment and an initial pledge of $100 million, CNN reported.
The Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation has three primary functions: To invest in descendants’ education throughout their lives; to fund programs and community leaders already engaged in anti-racism advocacy, and to support elderly descendants for the rest of their lives.
Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said in a statement the foundation has an “extraordinary vision to uplift Descendant communities, support the educational aspirations of Descendants, and promote racial healing in our nation.”
“It is an honor for our University to have the opportunity to contribute to their efforts. The difficult truths of our past guide us in the urgent work of seeking and supporting reconciliation in our present and future,” DeGioia said.