Georgetown University has apologized for its historical links to slavery and says it will give an admissions advantage to descendants of slaves it sold. Yiming Woo reports.
In 1838, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. sold 272 slaves to help pay off its debts. More than 170 years later, its president, John DeGioia is apologising. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT JOHN DEGIOIA SAYING: "This community participated in the institution of slavery. This original evil that shaped the early years of the republic was present here and we have been able to hide from this truth, bury this truth, ignore and deny this truth." The university has promised to give descendants of the slaves they sold the same admissions advantage as the children of alumni. It will also create a memorial and name one of its buildings Freedom Hall for Isaac, after the name of the first slave mentioned in the sale. These steps, among others, go further than those taken by universities also confronting their history with slavery, including Harvard, Brown and Princeton. While many students welcomed the announcement, some descendants of slaves, like Sandra Green Thomas, say the moves are inadequate. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DESCENDANT OF SLAVES SOLD TO BENEFIT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, SANDRA GREEN THOMAS, SAYING: "I was somewhat disappointed in it. It seems to me that the best title for it would be Georgetown reconciles with itself because it really is all about Georgetown and has very little to do with us descendants." She and others say it would have been better if the university gave scholarships to descendants and included them on the panel that made the recommendations.