From the Give ‘Em an Inch annals.
A week after Georgetown University apologized for its role in the slave trade and promised admission priority to students who could prove they descended from slaves, the recipients of the university’s largesse said, “Thank you, but no thank you” and then made a counter-offer.
In a statement Thursday, purported slave descendant Sandra Green Thomas said:
We appreciate the gestures of a proposed memorial to our enslaved ancestors on Georgetown’s campus and President John DeGioia’s visits with some descendants, but recommendations developed without the meaningful participation of descendants can only be seen as preliminary.
Thomas and other descendants of the 272 slaves sold by Georgetown in 1838 to pay its debts told The Washington Post they want the school to establish a billion-dollar Reconciliation Fund. That’s billion with a “B.”
The amount that Georgetown received for the sale of the slaves was $115,000. Even adjusting for inflation, the amount in today’s money translates to just over $3 million — tiny fraction of the amount the slave descendants are seeking.
Advocates say that the demand isn’t reparations, because the fund would benefit the whole country. Joseph Stewart, another advocate for the descendants. explained:
It’s not about getting anything that just benefits descendants. It’s about having an opportunity to have a common good.
How exactly that would happen has yet to be explained.
While Georgetown is a wealthy university, a fund that size would be a massive commitment. As of 2015, the school’s endowment was $1.5 billion, substantially smaller than comparable top 25 schools such as Notre Dame, Duke University, and second-tier Ivies such as Brown University.
Both Georgetown and the Maryland province of the Jesuit religious order, where operates the school, have responded with cautious statements that say they are open to working with the descendants but don’t offer any specific support for such a fund.
In addition to the special admissions preference, DeGioia also promised to build an on-campus memorial and to rename two of the buildings on cmapus, one after a slave sold by the school and the other after a woman who founded a local school for black girls.
This report, by Blake Neff, was cross-posted in altered form by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.