Race/Related: Moving to Make Amends, Georgetown President Meets With Descendant of Slaves

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Patricia Bayonne-Johnson met with John J. DeGioia, a boss of Georgetown University, in Spokane, Wash., on Monday. Ms. Bayonne-Johnson is a successor of dual of a 272 slaves sole by a university in 1838.

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David Ryder for The New York Times

More than a century after Georgetown University used some of a increase from a sale of 272 deferential African-Americans to assistance safeguard a survival, John J. DeGioia, a university’s president, took a initial step on Monday toward creation justification to their descendants.

He walked into a open library in Spokane, Wash., for a private assembly with Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, a great-great-great granddaughter of Nace and Biby Butler, dual of a slaves who were sole in 1838 to assistance keep a college afloat.

The 45-minute meeting, that was followed by a lunch during a circuitously Davenport Hotel, might good have been a ancestral one.

More than a dozen universities have famous their ties to labour and a worker trade. But historians contend they trust this is a initial time that a boss of an chosen university has met with a descendants of slaves who had worked on a college campus or were sole to advantage one.

“I came to listen and to learn,” Mr. DeGioia pronounced in an interview, describing a contention as “moving and inspiring.”

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Ms. Bayonne-Johnson, an pledge genealogist and late teacher, pronounced she believed Mr. DeGioia was peaceful to take required stairs “to respect a scapegoat and legacy” of her ancestors.

“He asked what could he do and how could he help,” she pronounced in an interview. “It was a really good beginning.”

The assembly comes as officials during Georgetown continue to fastener with how to residence a college’s complicity in a worker sale. The slaves, who were owned by a Jesuit priests who founded and ran a college, were sole for about $3.3 million in today’s dollars.

A apportionment of a distinction — about $500,000 — was used to assistance compensate off Georgetown’s debts during a time when a college was struggling financially. The slaves, who had lived on Jesuit estates in Maryland that had helped to financial a college’s operations, were uprooted and shipped to plantations in Louisiana.

A operative organisation fabricated by Mr. DeGioia in Sep has been deliberation either a university should apologize for profiting from worker labor, emanate a commemorative to those enslaved, or yield scholarships for their descendants, among other possibilities. The news is approaching to be expelled this summer, Mr. DeGioia said.

Craig Steven Wilder, a historian during a Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has complicated a roots of chosen universities in slavery, pronounced he did not know of another instance in that a university boss had reached out to descendants.

“Georgetown has done a preference to commend a amiability of a problem they’re traffic with, to provide it as some-more than a open family problem,” Mr. Wilder said.

The hunt for descendants of a men, women and children sole in 1838 strong in a tumble after Georgetown students called on a university to mislay a names of a Rev. Thomas F. Mulledy and a Rev. William McSherry, from dual campus buildings. The priests were dual of Georgetown’s early presidents. Both were concerned in a worker sale. Mr. DeGioia, who had already called for a campuswide contention about a college’s roots in slavery, concluded to change a names of a buildings.

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The tyro protests desirous a Georgetown alumnus, Richard J. Cellini, to found a nonprofit, a Georgetown Memory Project, to assistance brand and support a descendants of a people who were sold. Mr. Cellini hired 8 genealogists, including Ms. Bayonne-Johnson and several researchers who are operative with her. University officials are also identifying descendants of a slaves.

Ms. Bayonne-Johnson pronounced that she done a indicate of revelation Mr. DeGioia what she knew about her ancestors and emphasizing a significance of a university’s archival records. Earlier this year, Georgetown combined an online repository that includes annals that report a worker sale and a Jesuit and Louisiana plantations.

“These were genuine people,” Ms. Bayonne-Johnson pronounced of her deferential forebears, “and we wanted to put faces on them for him.”

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