Reckoning With Georgetown University's Foundation of Slavery

In 1838, Jesuits sold 272 enslaved Africans to help keep Georgetown University open. Now, as the school reckons with its past, a descendant of one man sold at that auction wants to open a conversation about slavery.

Important to know your ancestry

In 1838, 272 African slaves were sold by Jesuit priests to keep Georgetown University open. 181 years later, the school and the descendants of those sold into slavery are reckoning with what happened. Hodge is descended from Isaac Hawkins — one of the slaves sold by in the 1838 Jesuit Slave Sale to balance the debt of the institution that become Georgetown. In 2017, Georgetown renamed one of their residential halls after Hawkins. Lack of action from the school led to the creation of nonprofits like the Georgetown Memory Project, which since its founding in 2015 has raised over $10,000 from alumni to track down descendants of slaves.

“I was on the phone with my father simultaneously as I was searching because I said, wow, this is turning into something as I just felt it bubbling up like, wow, this is something. I found it. I found what I was looking for. I found my legacy. You want to be happy because now you've made this breakthrough. But in your happiness, you're angry, but you don't really know who to be mad at with the university itself, them attempting to do whatever they could to make it right for the descendants of those slaves would be the right thing to do. I was taking the genealogy course at church and someone texted me an article from "The New York Times" and they basically said, you and I share some of the same ancestry. I think you need to read this article,” Feith Hawkins Hodge, descendant - of the Georgetown 272 tells Brut.

In 2019, Georgetown announced it would attempt to raise $400,000 a year to benefit descendants — months after students voted for this in a non-binding resolution. Over 600,000 Africans were captured enslaved and transported to the U.S. as reported by the Dictionary of American Slavery. Starting with Georgetown, Hodge says she would like to see change in how we discuss the lasting consequences of slavery and reparations.


11/21/2019 10:25 PM


  • Charlie F.
    12/30/2019 15:25

    Too soon

  • Riley W.
    12/29/2019 22:30

    Ain't that something

  • Maxine J.
    12/29/2019 20:25

    At least Georgetown kept records/slave names.

  • William A.
    12/29/2019 01:10

    Can't keep Whitewashing the facts forever

  • Ted D.
    12/26/2019 08:18

    It would be interesting to know where the Jesuit missionaries were in 1838.

  • Bernard E.
    12/24/2019 07:12

    An education from Georgetown University can never be taken away.

  • Bernard E.
    12/24/2019 07:10

    The Archdiocese of St.Louis owned slaves until the 13th Amendment passed and assisted in building St.Louis U. This history should be taught.

  • Campbell L.
    12/22/2019 22:35

    That’s Y We Should Love Each Other The More

  • Daniel C.
    12/22/2019 13:48

    Thanks to the Democratic party for this horrible plan. History doesn't lie!

  • Johnny R.
    12/21/2019 05:10

    White folks don't want us to remember without for parents Winthrop and slavery

  • Dinnie M.
    12/20/2019 12:51

    How can she say when you think if slavery you don't think of your family? As a person of African ancestry we all are aware that our ancestors were enslaved that's how we are here in the Americas. There was far more than 600,000 people that were a part of the African transatlantic slavery. The students of European ancestry have cognitive dissonance a legacy brought down one generation to the next in the USA. It's shocking how these churches good Christian's participated in such a heinous crime against humanity. How they justified treating human beings as property and said that people of African ancestry were only 3/5 of a human. 🙄😏

  • Mara I.
    12/14/2019 11:25

    We need to learn on history. Also slavery never ended. And continiues where it began. If this page can help about this because black people still be sold in Afrca and led in Lybia. Please stop slavery where it began.

  • James E.
    12/13/2019 07:01

    Deep history I feel that there might be other institutions that were either built by slaves or sold for financial purpose of slaves in order for them to be kept up or going. History should be told about more Black scholars or those that have slave ancestors that need to be paid retribution from what they had to go thru for that school or property

  • Tracy N.
    12/09/2019 22:55

    I am sorry for what our ancestors did. My people came from Hungary to escape war and poverty. It would be sad for me to learn my ancestors owned slaves. I would hope they treated them well. I would rather my ancestors helped them escape or never owned any. The truth is, it's history. I can't change it. I don't think people should have to pay for what their ancestors did. Native Americans were slautered and relocated. Human beings can be evil. I wasn't there. I can't change the past. We should learn from our past.

  • Greg R.
    12/07/2019 08:40

    Get over it people

  • James E.
    12/05/2019 13:44

    Yes 182 years ago I'm always devastated when I read an article that's 182 years old

  • Denise B.
    12/04/2019 02:06


  • Frank M.
    12/03/2019 19:28

    They were sold as property and/or chattel...and sadly, people of color are still viewed as such by so many in today’s society...and many who claim to be Christian...

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    12/02/2019 20:46

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