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October Wednesday

Sowing Resolution: The Case for Reparations in Action


Presented as a part of the series 400 Years of Inequality: Slavery, Race, and Our Unresolved History.

As a national conversation about reparations takes root, BHS and the Social Science Research Council gather a panel of experts to unpack the notion of reparations broadly, examine various forms that reparations might take, and look at one concrete example happening today. In 1838, Georgetown University sold 272 enslaved people ‘down river’ to secure its financial health. What is owed to their descendants, and how has Georgetown made amends? Join New York Times contributing writer Rachel Swarns for a conversation with Adam Rothman, GU historian and principal curator of the Georgetown Slavery Archive; Mélisande Short-Colomb, student activist and descendant of the GU272; and Katherine Franke, author of Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition and Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University.

This program is presented as part of Brooklyn Historical Society’s 400 Years of Inequality: Slavery, Race, and Our Unresolved History initiative, an immersive series of reflection, analysis, and discussion acknowledging our nation’s unresolved history of slavery.


Wednesday, October 02, 2019

7:00 pm


  • General Admission $15
  • Member Admission $10
Reserve Tickets

Missed this program? Watch it here!

Thanks to our funders

This series is made possible through the generous support of Joanne Witty and Eugene Keilin, Sylvia and Byron Lewis, Margaret Seiler and Hovey Brock, Alexandra Bowie and Daniel Richman, the Brooklyn Community Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President’s Grant Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, and donors to BHS’s Race and History Fund.


Thanks to our programming partners

BHS is proud to partner with the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Coming to the Table, Facing History and Ourselves, the New School’s 400 Years of Inequality initiative, the Social Science Research Council, and the Vera Institute of Justice.


  • Oct 2 KatherineFranke

    Katherine Franke

    Katherine Franke is Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Columbia University, where she also directs the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law. Katherine is the faculty director of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project. She is among the nation’s leading scholars writing on law, religion and rights, drawing from feminist, queer, and critical race theory. Her most recent book, Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition, makes the case for racial reparations today by telling the story of experiments in South Carolina and Mississippi in the 1860s, in which freed people were given land explicitly as reparation for enslavement and then had it taken away by the government.

  • Oct 2 Adam Rothman

    Adam Rothman

    Adam Rothman is Professor of History at Georgetown and principal curator of the Georgetown Slavery Archive. Adam studies the history of the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War, and the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world. His most recent book is Beyond Freedom’s Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery which received numerous awards including the Humanities Book of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Jefferson Davis Book Award, and the Margaret T. Lane/Virginia F. Saunders Memorial Research Award. He also created the African-American Passages: Black Lives in the 19th Century podcast.

  • Oct 2 Melisande Short-Colomb

    Mélisande Short-Colomb

    Mélisande Short-Colomb is a rising third year student at Georgetown University. She serves as a member of the Georgetown Memory Project’s Board of Advisors, Council Elder of the GU272 Descendants Association and a founding member of the student led GU272 Student Advocacy Team, and a recipient of a Fr, Bunn Award for Journalistic Excellence. Mélisande is also a descendant of  families sold by the Society of Jesus in 1838. Mélisande, a native of New Orleans, LA began her studies at GU in 2017, after retirement from a lengthy culinary career to relocate to Washington, DC.

  • Oct 2 Rachel Swarns

    Rachel Swarns

    Rachel Swarns is a journalist, author and professor, who writes about race and race relations as a contributing writer for The New York Times. Her articles about Georgetown University’s roots in slavery touched off a national conversation about American universities and their ties to this painful period of history. Ms. Swarns has reported on immigration, presidential politics and First Lady Michelle Obama and her role in the Obama White House. She is currently an associate professor of journalism at New York University.