Georgetown’s black heritage

By the

March 2, 2006

Tuesday evening, Carroll Gibbs, lecturer and author of Black Georgetown Remembered, took a retrospective look at the Georgetown community’s black heritage.

In his speech, Gibbs described the hardships faced by both enslaved and later free black residents throughout the community’s history.

“My task this evening is to chronicle in part what many people consider to be a forgotten community; that is, the continuing existence of African Americans in Georgetown,” Gibbs said. “The black history at Georgetown is long and deep.”

To illustrate, Gibbs told the story of two white professors from the Georgetown Medical School who helped teach at Howard University, a primarily black university in the District of Columbia, after its founding in 1862. They later had their medical and teaching privileges cancelled by the medical school.

Gibbs attributed the growth in Georgetown’s black community to the work of university president Fr. Patrick Healy, S. J., the first black president of a predominantly white educational institution. Despite this growth in freedoms, however, Gibbs said he sees a lack of solidarity in resisting the discrimination he said the community continues to suffer.

“Oppression, discrimination exists today and yet it seems difficult to get young people energized in this,” he said. “It seems difficult for us to get together to fight injustice and poverty and racism.”

“D.C. ’s doors, and Georgetown’s as well, never swung on welcome hinges for black folk,” he said.

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