Officials at Georgetown University have agreed to rename two campus buildings after students gathered over the weekend to demand an end to the Northwest D.C. university’s largely concealed legacy of slavery.
Mulledy Hall was named after former president Thomas Mulledy, who sold hundreds of slaves to reduce Georgetown’s debts, and McSherry Hall paid tribute to President William McSherry, who not only advised on the sale of slaves, but sold them as well. The two buildings will use the interim designations of “Freedom Hall” and “Remembrance Hall.”
“Black individuals have historically been an integral part of the foundation and advancement of Georgetown’s academic Institution with little to no recognition,” a statement issued Friday by the students read. “We are imploring that the university recognize and acknowledge the role that black people have had and continue to have on this campus.”
The students are calling on university officials to make their demands “a permanent part of the overall Georgetown narrative.”
The controversy comes in the wake of inflamed racial tensions on the campus of the University of Missouri and elsewhere throughout the nation. Last week, an online threat was aimed at Howard University, also located in Northwest D.C., while a swastika was found painted on the column of a building at Bowie State University in nearby Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Meanwhile, a 16-member panel of administrators, students, and faculty appointed in September by Georgetown President John J. DeGioia will be hosting forums on how to continue the work of acknowledging the university’s history of slavery. One will be held this week and another will be presented during the first week of December.
A symposium is slated for April 16 — D.C.’s Emancipation Day, which commemorates the day slavery was abolished in the city.