An MLK Symposium Event with journalist and author Rachel Swarns

January 18, 2024

  • MLK Symposium Event |
  • Wallace House Presents |
  • winter 2024 |

Slavery and the U.S. Catholic Church: Confronting History and the Case for Reparations

4 PM | THURSDAY, JAN. 18, 2024

Rackham Amphitheatre, 4th floor
915 Washington Street

In-person, free and open to the public
Watch the video recording.

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What is the responsibility of American institutions in reparative justice?

Join New York Times journalist and author Rachel Swarns in conversation with Wallace House director Lynette Clemetson, as she discusses her book “The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold To Build the American Catholic Church,” a story of servitude and slavery spanning nearly two centuries and detailing the beginnings of Georgetown University and the U.S. Catholic Church. Swarns’s journalism started a national conversation about universities with ties to slavery.

“The 272” will be available for purchase at the event. The author will stay for a short book signing after the program.

About the speaker

Rachel Swarns is a journalist, author and associate professor of journalism at New York University, 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. Her book, “The 272,” emerged from her reporting at The Times and focuses on Georgetown and the Catholic Church and their roots in slavery. It was selected as one of the best books of 2023 by The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Time magazine, The Washington Post, the Chicago Public Library and Kirkus Reviews. “The 272” was also one of 24 books longlisted for the 2024 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.

About the moderator

Lynette Clemetson is the Charles R. Eisendrath Director of Wallace House Center for Journalists, home of the Knight-Wallace Fellowships for Journalists and the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists at the University of Michigan.

Center for Racial Justice housed at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Center for Social Solutions
Donia Human Rights Center
Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies

This is a 2023 U-M Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium event.