SMR: Timeline

Below is a timeline of significant University news, events, and initiatives since the formation of the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation in September 2015.

  • For additional events and announcements, see the University Engagement section of the Georgetown Slavery Archive.
  • For a timeline of the events associated with the sale of 272 enslaved persons in 1838, please see this historical timeline, covering the period from the arrival of the Jesuits in Maryland in 1634 to the naming of Patrick Healy, S.J., as President of the University in 1874.


April - Georgetown University hosted the Universities Studying Slavery consortium for a virtual conference, on April 15 and April 16. The conference was held in conjunction with Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia, which marks the April 16, 1862 signing of the DC Compensated Emancipation Act, which ended slavery in Washington, DC.

March - The GU272 Descendants Association and the Society of Jesus announced the formation of the Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Foundation, a partnership that seeks to accelerate racial healing and advance racial justice in the United States. Read more in The Jesuits partner with descendants of enslaved people they once owned and sold to raise $100 million for racial justice (America Magazine, March 15, 2021).

February - President DeGioia announced the formal establishment of a university-wide Racial Justice Institute to be led by Dr. Anita Gonzalez, Ph.D., Dr. Derek M. Griffith, Ph.D., and Professor Robin Lenhardt, J.D. (L’04). The announcement provides more information about the Institute's work and its multidisciplinary leadership.


July - The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a collaboration of teams from Michigan State University, Georgetown University, and the University of Virginia a grant of $550,000 to support the first phase of "On These Grounds," a digital initiative to describe the history of enslavement found in archival materials at colleges and universities.

June - President DeGioia announced Juneteenth as a University holiday for 2020 and annually in the future. Read the announcement and the University's Honoring Juneteenth page promoting historical memory and supporting personal and community reflection.

June - In response to the killings of George Floyd and other unarmed Black people by police, the University hosted forums and other events with national experts to support the fight for racial justice.

April - The University hosted a weeklong virtual transcription event for the Georgetown Slavery Archive honoring DC Emancipation Day.


December - Georgetown received a $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand the Georgetown Prison Scholars Program to Maryland and offer bachelor’s degrees.

October - President DiGioia announced three new advisory groups: Descendant and Community Engagement (in response to the April 2019 student referendum on reparations); Public History; and Academic and Research Initiatives. Additional information is in this FAQ.

October - With support from the Corporation of the Roman Catholic Clergymen, Maryland, the Booth Family Center for Special Collections hired Cassandra Berman as the Archivist for the Maryland Province Archives.

June-August - A cohort of four students was selected to work on summer research projects relating different aspects of the history of slavery and its legacies. Students worked with librarians, curators, and Professor Adam Rothman on four different research projects. See SMR: Student Projects for more information about the projects. This program was funded by the Office of the President and the Dean of the College. The Summer Fellows program was not offered in summer 2020 due to the inaccessibility of archival collections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

April - Georgetown observed Washington, DC’s Emancipation Day through a series of events, including a lecture by Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia, and a crowd-sourced transcription event for the Georgetown Slavery Archive. Read Emancipation Day Celebrations Include Historical Documentation, Slavery Narratives for details of the day's events.

April - Georgetown University students voted in favor of a referendum to establish a fee of $27.20 per semester to for a fund to benefit descendants of the 272 enslaved persons sold by the Maryland Jesuits in 1838. Two-thirds of students who voted in the SGA referendum supported the measure, though it is not binding on the University. For details, see Students Endorse Reconciliation Fee in GU272 Referendum (The Hoya, April 12, 2019). See October entry above for the University's response to the referendum vote.


September - The Institute for Racial Justice selected its initial proposals for funding.

August - At the invitation of Descendant leaders, Georgetown joined the Jesuits and Descendant leaders in a process of dialogue supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This Dialogue is guided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation framework, a process of dialogue anchored in the practices of trust-building, truth-telling, racial healing, and transformation. For background on the issues, see A New Path to Atonement (Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 19, 2019, GU NetID and password required).

April - The University hosted an Emancipation Day panel discussion moderated by Professor Marcia Chatlain and featuring Marcia Hall, Vocation Director of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, and Diane Batts Morrow, Associate Professor of history and African American Studies at the University of Georgia.


April - Georgetown held a Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition, and Hope in partnership with the Society of Jesus and the Archdiocese of Washington, at which the University and the Society of Jesus offered an apology for the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved children, women, and men.

April - Georgetown permanently renamed two campus buildings:

  • Isaac Hawkins Hall, named for one of the 272 enslaved individuals sold by the Maryland Province of Jesuits in 1838
  • Anne Marie Becraft Hall, named for a free woman of color who founded one of the first schools for black girls in Georgetown and later became one of America’s first black nuns


December - Georgetown received a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to assist the University in establishing a center for racial justice, hiring faculty experts in the field, supporting postdoctoral and graduate fellows and funding a series of visiting lecturers. The grant will help Georgetown carry out its commitment to produce scholarship that helps the nation better understand and address its legacies of slavery, racism, and discrimination.

September - President DeGioia and members of the Working Group released the Report of the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. Some of the recommendations of the Working Group include:

  • Renaming Freedom Hall (formerly known as Mulledy Hall) as Isaac Hall
  • Renaming Remembrance Hall (formerly known as McSherry Hall) as Anne Marie Becraft Hall
  • Offering a formal apology for the ways the University’s participated in and benefitted from slavery
  • Engaging with the Descendant community in an active and sustained manner
  • Developing a public memorial to the enslaved to ensure their memory is honored and preserved
  • Pursuing research and teaching, establishing a new Institute for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies at Georgetown

June - Georgetown's Board of Directors approved a new Department of African American Studies. African American Studies was founded as an interdisciplinary program in 2003.

April - In connection with DC Emancipation Day, the Working Group planned a symposium with 15 events scheduled over 12 days to explore issues ranging from the history of slavery at Georgetown to the legacies of slavery throughout the United States. Details of the events are in Appendix D of the Working Group's Report.

February - The Georgetown Slavery Archive was launched by the Archives Subgroup of the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. The Archive is a repository of materials relating to the Maryland Jesuits, Georgetown University, and slavery, which is continually updated as new materials are identified and processed.


December - The University held a ceremony to rename Freedom Hall (formerly Mulledy Hall) and Remembrance Hall (formerly McSherry Hall).

December - the Working Group hosted a teach-in to encourage the campus conversation about Georgetown University’s historical relationship to slavery and its legacy. The teach-in also increased awareness of Georgetown's historical ties to slavery and furthered the pursuit of reconciliation in within the community.

November - President DiGioia accepted the Working Group's recommendation to rename Mulledy Hall and McSherry Hall the buildings. Mulledy and McSherry were slaveholders.

September - President DiGioia appointed the Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, chaired by Fr. David Collins, S.J. The charge to the Working Group was to "provide advice and recommendations to [the President] on how best to acknowledge and recognize Georgetown’s historical relationship with the institution of slavery; examine and interpret the history of certain sites on our campus, to include Mulledy Hall; and convene events and opportunities for dialogue."