This is a panel dialogue that took place online on April 29, 2021. The background is that in 1838, the Jesuits sold 272 enslaved people, including men, women and children. This was the largest single sale of enslaved people in human history. Some of the proceeds were used to support the development of Georgetown University.
In 2015, Georgetown President John J. DeGioia established a Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, which led to dialogue with and apology to Descendants and key efforts to address the legacy of slavery and overcome racism at Georgetown, in Washington, and beyond. On March 15 of this year, U.S. Jesuits and descendant leaders announced the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation, which will support the educational aspirations of Descendants of Jesuit slaveholding and racial healing efforts in the United States.
At a time of national reckoning on racism and dialogue on how to pursue justice, this Initiative Dialogue explored personal, religious, and institutional responsibilities for the legacy of slavery and the reality of structural racism. The dialogue around institutional responses to enslavement has raised important questions, offered new possibilities for collaboration, and new paths forward for our nation and the U.S. Catholic Church.
- What are the typical psychological and social symptoms encountered in communities resulting from the experience and legacies of past atrocities?
- What might constitute collective healing in these situations?
- How do community-based processes and practices contribute to collective healing? (And how would the community evaluate collective healing? What are the relevant indicators that some healing has taken place?)
Louis Menand writes in New Yorker February 4th 2019 issue:
“institutional racism” or “structural racism”—is much harder to address. It requires more of people than just striking down a law.
General Assembly 73rd Session: 38th Plenary Meeting, 21 Nov 2018
Commemoration of the abolition of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Speakers Call for Greater Awareness‑Raising about Dangers of Racism, Prejudice, as General Assembly Reviews Education Programme on Transatlantic Slave Trade – Agenda Item 121.
On October 18th and 19th, twenty-eight renowned caring and inspirational experts from multi-disciplinary backgrounds met at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for days of deep sharing, exchange and dialogue around the topic of “Healing the Wounds of Slavery”. The symposium included four observers.
At the Opening Session, Prof Thomas Banchoff, Georgetown’s Vice President for Global Engagement, welcomed the international experts to the Berkley Center where he previously served as the founding director. Prof Banchoff shared Georgetown’s recognition of this important UNESCO initiative, and expressed his good will for the outcome of the Symposium.
The participants and contributors discussed the following questions:
- What are the historical contexts, foundations and underpinnings of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery?
- What lessons can we learn from these and other dehumanizing tragedies in world history?
- What are the latest research findings on the psycho-social consequences of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery?
- How do the different approaches, experiences and processes contribute to the healing the wounds left by such historical traumas?
- What would be the necessary approaches to healing the wounds of transatlantic slave trade and slavery?
- What would be the appropriate strategies to communicate and inform the public for a better understanding of the challenges to the overcoming of these legacies?
- Who are the key stakeholders and partners to associate with the healing
processes and dialogues?
At the concluding session of the Symposium, a number of proposals were made and the group are working to identify strategic steps forward.
Symposium event photography is now available to share, thank you.