- Dec 10, 2019
Georgetown University – the oldest Catholic university in the United States – renamed two buildings in an effort to express public contrition over its legacy of slavery. Isaac Hawkins Hall – formerly known as Mulledy Hall – is now named after a slave sold by the university in 1838. Anne Marie Becraft Hall – formerly known as McSherry Hall – is now named for a free woman of color who established a school in the town of Georgetown for black girls. Father Thomas Mulledy, S.J., and Father William McSherry, S.J., were two Georgetown Jesuits who played significant roles in an 1838 sale of 272 slaves by the school.
Two buildings on the campus of Georgetown University will be renamed on April 18. The buildings were originally named after priests who sold 272 women, children and men into slavery for financial gain in 1838. University president John J. DeGioia said the change is meant to begin healing from “Georgetown’s participation in that disgrace.”
Republican Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee was in Rome this week for meetings with Vatican officials, including the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to discuss a partnership between the United States and the Holy See on one of Pope Francis’s core social justice concerns: Human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
A searing, shocking truth has galvanized Georgetown to self-examination: in 1838, a Jesuit priest leading the university and another leading the order’s Maryland province authorized the sale of 272 slaves, and the proceeds were partially used to pay off debts at the university, then in financial trouble.
Nearly 200 years after two Jesuit priests organized the sale of 272 slaves in order to pay off some of the university’s debts, generating the equivalent of $3.3 million in today’s money, Georgetown University is striving to make amends.
On this worldwide anti-human trafficking day, the director of Catholic Voices USA salutes the epic efforts of Pope Francis to lead a global movement against one of the scourges of our time.