Georgetown’s Plan Spurs Hopes for a Shift in How Universities Confront Ties to Slavery

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The university’s actions raise the bar for other institutions dealing with similar challenges, even though many colleges aren’t in a position to make such specific and seamless changes, said Kirt von Daacke, an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia.

Virginia has a similar commission to confront the university’s ties to slavery, but UVa never owned slaves, Mr. von Daacke said. Instead, it rented or borrowed slaves from community members to help maintain, build, and run the university, and names and records of those individuals are sparse.

In most cases, it’s nearly impossible to track hired help to owners, forcing the university to rely on familial knowledge, he said. It’s tough for scholars to track these people down, as the university hasn’t always had a great relationship with its community.




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