Friday, March 31, 2017

I Was a Stranger, Day 31: Jeremy Alexander

Jeremy Alexander, an employee at Georgetown University, made a shocking discovery when he had his DNA traced and he began exploring his ancestry. He learned that his great-great-great-grandmother, Anna Mahoney Jones, had been sold by Georgetown.

Alexander is an executive assistant at the university, and he's seen how the university has tried to atone for the fact it sold slaves in 1838 to help rescue it from financial ruin. Some of the slave descendants even visited the campus, but he had no idea he was one of them.

“Now I work here — to realize that this is my history, this is my story, blows me away,” he told the New York Times. “I have been really emotional as I learned about my ties to the university.”

Georgetown is trying to atone for its involvement in slavery. In September, President John J. DeGioia announced that those descendants would be awarded preferential status in the admission process. According to The Washington Post, Georgetown will hold a religious ceremony in April as an apology for its ties to the slave trade.

Anna Mahoney Jones was one of the 272 slaves sold at Georgetown for about $115,000, or $3.3 million in today’s Jesuit priests. It was not the only sale of slaves made by Georgetown, but the largest. Listen to Jeremy Alexander's story here, as he, Roland Martin, and others discuss how the Catholic church was involved, how many of the country's great universities were built on the backs of slaves, and possible restitution for Georgetown's difficult history:

Read more of my "I Was a Stranger" entries here.

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