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A Catholic Reckoning on Slavery: Rachel Swarns on The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church

Thursday, February 29
6 – 7:30 p.m.
McNally Amphitheatre
140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
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Rachel Swarns is a journalist, scholar, and Black Catholic from Staten Island whose groundbreaking reporting and research illuminates the harrowing origin story of the Catholic Church in America, which relied on slave labor and slave sales to sustain its operations and help fuel its expansion.

The article she first wrote for The New York Times in 2016—about the prominent Jesuit priests who sold 272 people to save Georgetown University from bankruptcy—would become the seed of her new book, The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church. Her work has helped spark the movement for reparations and reconciliation in America—and in the Catholic Church.

Professor Swarns will talk about her book, about what the Church—and the United States—must do to help heal our racial divides, and about what this project has meant for her own faith.

David Gibson, director of Fordham’s Center on Religion and Culture, will moderate a discussion after the talk, including questions from the audience.

Swarns will be available to sign a limited number of books following the program.

This lecture is made possible by the Russo Family Foundation in memory of Wanda and Robert Russo Sr., M.D., FCRH ‘39.


This event is open to alumni, faculty/staff, parents, students, and the public.