In CUA Black History Month talk, ‘The 272’ author raises hope of reconciliation from a painful history of the Church and slavery

February 8, 2024 | Catholic Standard

Raising public awareness about the role of slavery in building the U.S. Catholic Church and sparking hopes for racial justice and reconciliation were themes that emerged in a discussion between former New York Times journalist Rachel L. Swarns, author of the bestseller The 272 – The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church, and Laura E. Masur, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at The Catholic University of AmericaSwarns joined the noted archaeologist for a Feb. 1 program at CUA’s Heritage Hall to launch Black History Month at the university.

The forum drew a diverse audience of more than 200 participants, including high school and college students, department heads and faculty members, clergy, Washington-area residents and Maryland and Louisiana descendants of the 272 enslaved men, women and children who were sold in 1838 by the Maryland Jesuits to Louisiana plantation owners, a sale that helped ensure the financial survival of Georgetown College, which later became Georgetown University.

Caption: Audience members at a Feb. 1 Black History Month event at The Catholic University of America ask questions of Rachel L. Swarns, author of the bestseller “The 272 – The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church.” (Photo by Patrick Ryan/The Catholic University of America)

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