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Loyola releases report on the University’s connections to slavery

Loyola Connections to Slavery

At the conclusion of a two-year scholarly examination, Loyola University Maryland has released a report on its historic connections to slavery and its ongoing legacies. 

The findings in the report include evidence uncovered through the research of a direct financial connection between Loyola’s founding and the proceeds of the sale of the enslaved persons, often referred to as the Georgetown University 272. 

Additional information is included in the task force report, which was published on Loyola’s Universities Studying Slavery website on Jan. 17. 2024. 

The report was conducted by a task force convened in December 2021 by Loyola’s then-Interim President Amanda M. Thomas, Ph.D., and then-Incoming President Terrence M. Sawyer, J.D. The President’s Task Force Examining Loyola’s Connections to Slavery included Loyola faculty, administrators, and students, along with two members of the Georgetown University 272 descendant community. 

“The process of examining Loyola’s connections to slavery and its legacies involved extensive research in archival and other sources, but it entailed much more than this. It involved new forms of dialogue and partnership, both within our University and beyond it,” said John Kiess, Ph.D., associate professor of theology and co-chair of the task force. “The voices of descendant community members, students, faculty, and administrators, combined with our engagement with those conducting similar processes at other universities across the country, all proved essential, shaping the direction and scope of our work.” 

The task force’s report also includes recommendations, which the University will consider as part of its next strategic plan, which is positioned for adoption later this spring. 

“On behalf of our Loyola community, I want to thank all the members of the task force, who gave so much of their time and expertise to this process—especially the members of the descendant community who participated in the process,” said Sawyer, president of Loyola. “We know that we cannot change the past. We must, however, understand the impact of sins and events of the past to be able to move forward. We must view history as it is, not as we wish it was. Only with this knowledge and understanding can we move forward and be true to our Catholic, Jesuit mission and values.” 

Loyola is one of more than 100 institutions  investigating their connections to slavery as part of the Universities Studying Slavery Consortium. Loyola had started conversations around the University’s possible connections to slavery while under the leadership of the Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., who was president of Loyola from 2005-2021, and the formation of the task force allowed for scholarly research and a University-wide exploration into this aspect of Loyola’s history. 

In the ongoing examination of the University’s connections to slavery and to help the Loyola and wider community learn about their shared history, reflect on current circumstances, and plan for a more just and equitable future, Loyola is planning a series of events over the course of the spring semester.

“We do not run from our history. We lean into our history. We wrestle with it and work to make peace with it,” said Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D., founding executive director of the Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice at Loyola and professor of communication and African and African American Studies. “We have to stand in the truth of this moment to make sense of it. It is part of the work that we do as a university. It is through this deep engagement that we model what critical reflective education looks like and what it can be. By doing this, we can be the bridge for the next generation to walk over.”