A year-and-a-half after students staged a sit-in to demand that Georgetown University rename buildings that bared the monikers of past university presidents who sold enslaved Black people to settle school debt, university officials honored that request.
The university permanently named a building Isaac Hawkins Hall - formerly known as Mulledy Hall and renamed as Freedom Hall in 2015 - in a courtyard ceremony next to the university's Dahlgren Chapel. After working with the group on recommendations, the university announced in Tuesday's liturgy that it has officially renamed the Mulledy Hall and McSherry Hall to Isaac Hawkins Hall and Anne Marie Becraft Hall. Rev. Tim Kesicki, the president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and United States, delivered the formal apology during the Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition and Hope.
"Today the Society of Jesus, who helped establish Georgetown University and whose leaders enslaved and mercilessly sold your ancestors, stands before you to say that we have greatly sinned, in our thoughts and in our words, in what we have done, and what we have failed to do", said the reverend. These halls were formerly named for two Jesuits involved in the 1838 sale to Louisiana plantation owners. She later joined the Oblate Sisters of Providence.
President John J. DeGioia of Georgetown also spoke during the liturgy, saying that "slavery remains the original evil of our republic".
Jesuit Father Robert Hussey, provincial of his order's Maryland province, and DeGioia met with descendants in the afternoon.
The university also hosted a dinner and private vigil for the descendants and took them on a tour of the plantation where their ancestors lived before the sale.
Their descendants gathered on the Georgetown campus for a dedication ceremony Tuesday.
"The actions of Georgetown students have placed all of us on a journey together toward honoring our enslaved ancestors by working toward healing and reconciliation", she said.
"Our work as a group was to help teardown the walls, the walls of mystery and silence and (the) unknown surrounding Georgetown's historical ties to the institution of slavery", said working group member Connor Maytnier (C'17) at the dedication. Becraft created a school for black girls in 1820 at Georgetown.