Solidarity Demonstrators Call for University Action



Black student activists led around 250 students, faculty and community members in a demonstration on Red Square tonight to express solidarity with students of color experiencing racism in universities domestically and internationally. The group announced a list of demands directed to university administration, addressing racial injustice at Georgetown.

The activists will stage sit-ins and protests outside the office of University President John J. DeGioia every day until midnight each night, beginning at 9 a.m. tomorrow, until the demands are met.

The demands include changing the name of Mulledy Hall and the McSherry Building, which houses the meditation center. The name retention of Mulledy Hall sparked ire earlier this year, calling attention to the actions of former University President Fr. Thomas Mulledy, S.J., who authorized the sale of 272 slaves to a Louisiana plantation in 1838. McSherry Hall is named after William McSherry, who served as Mulledy’s lawyer during the sale.

The demonstration was ignited by ongoing racial tensions at the University of Missouri, Yale University and the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, which has culminated in protests, strikes and resignations of university administrators over the past month.

Activists also called for increased memorialization of slaveholding history at Georgetown through an annual program honoring enslaved people and revising university tours to include information on the building’s histories. The demands, announced at the demonstration and passed out on leaflets, included the creation of an endowment for recruiting black professors — equivalent to the net present value of the profit from the 1838 sale, and mandatory training on diversity issues for professors.

In addition to presenting the demands, the organizers shared their personal stories of racial injustice at Georgetown and invited attendees to share their experiences as students of color.

This article has been updated. A full story will appear in Friday’ s issue, and online at

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.


  1. Dear Georgetown Students,
    I don’t mean to undermine the issues at hand, undeniably racial tensions and inequalities are approaching 1960s status, but I am curious. Before the issues at Mizzou brought to light racial inequalities in institutions of higher education, how many of you were affected by or even cared about the issue? This is an issue that has existed all this year, years before, and unfortunately probably years to come. Again, not trying to undermine the issue at hand. In fact, if recent events have moved you to consternation, I’m glad, but coming up with a list of demands, standing in Red Square, and sitting outside the President’s office isn’t going to make a difference. President DeGioia and Georgetown as a whole does not need good ideas and great intentions, Georgetown needs a student (and one is all it takes) to ask, “What do I need to do to get markers on the unmarked graves of slaves?” or “what do I need to do to start an endowment that supports cultural studies?” Demanding change is a lot easier than actually engaging in implementing change. Georgetown is one of the top institutions of higher education in the US and a Jesuit institution that prides itself in educating students to be men and women for others, and as such how is it that Georgetown is not the leading institution in solving theses problems? Why are all of Georgetown’s efforts to resolve these problems reactionary and not proactive? Georgetown students, I challenge you to take a moment, think about an issue at Georgetown that could really use improvement regardless of its effect on you, whether it is racial equality, accessibility of campus to students with disabilities, or one of hundreds of other issues that could be improved upon, and shoot an administrator an email and ask what you can do to implement a solution. There are hundreds of faculty and staff members at Georgetown who are anxious to enable students towards implementing solutions if they only ask. I am positive admin has heard many of your great ideas before, but take it a step further, be men and women for others, and make the change you envision a reality. Commit to more than just standing in Red Square for an hour or signing a petition

  2. Has the university provided any reasons for retaining the names of Mulledy Hall and the McSherry Building?

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