The Christian Science Monitor

Dollars today for enslavement long ago? Georgetown students say yes.

They aren’t just a list of enslaved people. They have stories, and descendants, and names: Polly, Revidy, Noble, Minty, Mary Jane, Michael, Sally Anne.

Buttons bearing these names were worn by “vote yes” students as they campaigned at Georgetown University this spring. They wanted undergraduates to pay a “reconciliation contribution” of $27.20 each semester. The funds would benefit descendants of people enslaved by Maryland Jesuits, including the “GU272” – a group sold in 1838 to help keep Georgetown afloat.

At this elite university in the capital of the United States, the invisibility cloak that shrouds institutional entanglement with slavery has been stripped away. In the wake of student and alumni pressure, college and Jesuit leaders have renamed campus buildings, participated in ceremonial repentance, and offered legacy admission preferences to descendants.

But four years of slowly evolving dialogue can try the patience of students seeking

Shift in thoughtWho should decide?Awaiting approval 

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