Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice

Owning slaves was business as usual for founders of an elite US girls' school

Anthony Bogues, a professor at Brown University who studies the history and consequences of slavery, said American society is caught between countervailing forces: an increase in overt racism, including recent racist tweets from US President Donald Trump, on the one side, and greater efforts to come to terms with the nation's history of racism and legacy of slavery on the other.

Georgetown Visitation Prep School
Georgetown Visitation Prepatory School
Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, DC, was founded in 1799 and owned enslaved people from 1800 until 1862.
Credit: Marvin Joseph/Washington Post

The cash-strapped nuns were desperate to sell their slaves.

It was the 1820s, and debt was piling up for Mother Agnes Brent, superior of the Georgetown Visitation Convent in Washington. The convent had broken ground on a new chapel, with stunningly poor timing - a few months after the country slumped into an economic collapse spurred by the Panic of 1819.

Anthony Bogues, a professor at Brown University who studies the history and consequences of slavery, said American society is caught between countervailing forces: an increase in overt racism, including recent racist tweets from US President Donald Trump, on the one side, and greater efforts to come to terms with the nation's history of racism and legacy of slavery on the other.

Read the entire article