WASHINGTON, March 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today, in a landmark undertaking, the largest known association of descendants of enslaved ancestors and descendants of the enslavers announced a partnership to create the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation, a billion-dollar vision to move America toward deep racial healing through a process of truth and reconciliation. The Foundation—formed by the GU272 Descendants Association and the Jesuits—is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the descendants of enslaved persons and the descendants of their enslavers. The Foundation is rooted in the events of 1838, when 272 enslaved men, women and children were sold by the Jesuit owners of Georgetown University to plantation owners in Louisiana.
“From our inception, the GU272 Descendants Association has chosen to identify and rebuild our ancestors’ families that were separated and often destroyed by the brutal institution of slavery and to create a sustainable mechanism for investing forward in uplifting descendants for many generations to come,” said Cheryllyn Branche, President of the GU272 Descendants Association. “Through the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation, we will restore honor and dignity to our ancestors by institutionalizing these goals for our children, our children’s children, and descendants for centuries to come.”
“For more than 400 years, our country has denied the persistent human destruction caused by slavery and the conscious and unconscious racism that divides our communities and nation,” said Joe Stewart, Acting President of the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation and one of more than 1,000 descendants of Isaac Hawkins, an enslaved man who, along with many other enslaved men, women and children, was sold to save Georgetown University from financial ruin. “After 182 years, descendants and Jesuits have come together in the spirit of truth, racial healing and reconciliation, uniquely positioning the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation to set an example and lead America through dismantling the remnants of slavery and mitigating the presence of racism. Our partnership will pursue and support the creation of a new and abiding reality of love and justice for all members of our one humanity.”
The Foundation will support the educational aspirations of descendants for future generations and play a prominent role in engaging, promoting and supporting programs and activities that highlight truth, accelerate racial healing and reconciliation, and advance racial justice and equality in America.
The Foundation aims to develop a full understanding of, and reconciliation with, the numerous institutions of higher education and other entities that profited from slavery. When the members of the Foundation became aware of their history in 2016, they chose not to seek individual cash settlements but rather to seek a substantial and sustainable investment forward in uplifting the wellbeing of descendants for many generations to come.
“Our shameful history of Jesuit slaveholding in the United States has been taken off the dusty shelf, and it can never be put back,” said Father Tim Kesicki, S.J. President of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. “Racism will endure in America if we continue to turn our heads away from the truth of the past and how it affects us all today. The lasting effects of slavery call each of us to do the work of truth and reconciliation. Without this joining of hearts and hands in true unity, the cycle of hatred and inequality in America will never end.”
When 272 enslaved men, women and children were sold by the Jesuit owners of Georgetown University to plantation owners in Louisiana, Citizens Bank of New Orleans, later acquired by JPMorgan Chase, used some of those humans as collateral. In support of its goals, the Foundation has set up a trust for which JPMorgan Chase will serve as a co-trustee and provide planning and advice as well as other services.
“The institution of slavery and systemic racism are tragic parts of America’s history, and we have a responsibility to drive sustainable change for the people and communities who have been impacted by this bitter legacy,” said Brian Lamb, the Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at JPMorgan Chase. “We are proud to support the Descendants and Jesuits as they pursue solutions through truth, racial healing and transformation to help dismantle the legacy of slavery and to build a more equitable society both now and for generations to come.”
To learn more about the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation, visit www.descendants.org.
About the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation
The Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation is a private nonprofit foundation comprising the GU272 Descendants Association—representing more than 10,000 living and deceased descendants—and the Society of Jesus. The Foundation’s mission is to be and be perceived as a moral and intellectual leader in the pursuit of truth, racial healing and transformation toward a world in which the false ideology that human value can be rooted in pigmentation supremacy is jettisoned and replaced by a new and abiding reality of love and justice for all members of our one humanity.
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SOURCE Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation