WASHINGTON - The descendants of one of the 272 slaves sold by Georgetown University to keep the school running in the 19th century are fighting for reparations. They say the university has not done enough to reconcile the injustice.
A mass of remembrance was held Wednesday night at St. Augustine Catholic Church in D.C. in honor of the 272 people sold into slavery as each of their names were read aloud by the community.
Besides honoring their ancestors, the descendants of Isaac Hawkins are calling on the university to take action and essentially give them reparations for what they happened to their families.
"We are here tonight because we want to call each name one by one to lift the souls up of those slaves,” said Georgia Goslee, the counsel to Hawkins’ descendants. “One hundred eighty years ago, 272 slaves left the Maryland plantations and were shipped on the Katherine Jackson ship down to the brutal plantations of Louisiana.”
A claim was filed back in June, but Goslee said nothing has been done since and they believe there is a bigger picture here when it comes to racial justice.
"Their predecessors participated in slavery and more specifically, they are now enjoying the riches of that sale and the slave industry,” said Goslee.
“For every soul living, I feel that we can all relate to this situation because there but for the grace of God, it could be any of us,” descendant Cordelia Taylor.
Georgetown University said in a statement:
“Georgetown has taken initial steps to seek reconciliation, beginning with offering a formal apology to Descendants; renaming two buildings, including one for Isaac Hawkins, the first person named in the 1838 sale; and offering Descendants the same consideration in admissions that it gives members of the Georgetown community."
However, the counsel for the descendants of Hawkins said they have not heard back from the university. But the message for them is clear.
“To bring more awareness to the plight of GU272 and to encourage Georgetown to take our claim seriously,” said Goslee.
“It's a long time coming and still hasn't gotten here,” said Taylor. “Make no mistake about it."