N.O. student will study at university that sold her ancestor as slaves

In 2016, a New York Times article revealed that in 1838 the Jesuit priests who ran Georgetown University sold 272 slaves to sustain the school's finances. Many of these slaves ended up on plantations here in Louisiana. There could be thousands of living d

NEW ORLEANS -- A New Orleans' woman will attend Georgetown University this fall, the same university that sold her ancestors as slaves nearly 200 years ago.

In 2016, a New York Times article revealed that in 1838 the Jesuit priests who ran Georgetown University sold 272 slaves to sustain the school’s finances. Many of these slaves ended up on plantations here in Louisiana. There could be thousands of living descendants of these slaves and 23-year-old Elizabeth Thomas is one of them.

“I feel like we are the ultimate legacy of the school,” Thomas said. 

Her great-great-great grandparents, Sam and Betsey Harris, were listed on the sales papers from 1838.

“I always assumed that I came from slaves, but actually having the answers, like the blueprint of what happened was incredibly real and sad,” Thomas said.

Georgetown now offers preferential treatment to the descendants of these 272 slaves through their admissions’ process in an attempt to redeem the past.  

Thomas enrolled at Georgetown this spring to get her graduate degree in Journalism.  Her little brother will be an undergrad this fall. Although she’s excited about attending Georgetown, Elizabeth deals with a whirlwind of emotions.

“All I kept thinking is I wonder what my ancestors are thinking looking down on me being at the school getting an education where they were enslaved," Thomas said.

The university is not offering scholarships for descendants and Thomas believes more should be done.

“It’s kind of like [Georgetown] is still profiting off us. Our ancestors were sold there for profits," she said.

Thomas is just one of a possible 10,000 descendants from the 272 slaves.

To help Thomas with her college tuition, visit her GoFundMe Page here.

© 2017 WWL-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment