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The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Loyola’s Legacy: Unveiling Hidden Truths of Slavery

Loyola’s Connections to Higher Education’s History of Slavery
Abby Benner

This article is the third of a four-part series investigating Loyola’s connections to slavery.

After investigative research over the course of two years, Loyola explored the school’s affiliation with slavery and the repercussions through several channels of investigation. However, Loyola is not the only school involved in the journey to determining whether there is a connection to slavery through their respective history.

The Universities Studying Slavery consortium is composed of 105 colleges and universities that are committed to exploring their connections to slavery and continues to grow daily in the number of schools joining. Spearheaded by the University of Virginia, the USS consortium is focused on mentoring and educating each other, promoting collaboration of research, sustaining systemic repair, and more.

Former Loyola Task-Force Co-Chair and President of Church Divinity School of the Pacific Dr. Stephen Fowl attended a USS conference in April of 2022.

“It was clear that each university’s context was different. At the same time, there were valuable lessons to be shared across those differences,” Fowl said. “Not that many universities engaged students at the level we did. Several USS colleagues were struck and impressed by the depth of Loyola’s student engagement, and they planned to do more to include students in the light of our experience.”

Being part of this consortium, Loyola has attended a handful of symposiums from 2022 to 2024. The university also joined the group in November 2021 as the eighth school in Maryland alongside Allegany College, the Community College of Baltimore County, Goucher College, Johns Hopkins, Morgan State University, Towson University, and the University of Maryland.

Professor and Chair of History at Towson University, Christian Koot, has been integral in the university’s project ‘Unearthing Towson’s History.’ This project explored Towson’s experience as, “a product of Maryland’s segregated school system and remained racially segregated until after the United States Supreme Court struck down racial segregation of public schools in 1954.”

“We began looking into essentially the story of segregation at Towson, and the story of actually more particularly the story of desegregation at Towson as we wanted to focus on what was it like for the first black students? What, you know, what were those circumstances?” Koot said.

In working within the USS, Koot explains that students who are facilitating the research are contributing to the process of historical reconciliation.

“They’re [Loyola’s students] the ones that are writing about the people that went to this place before they did, in many ways they’ve gotten the most at stake in these stories and wanting to center them. We are nothing without the student researchers that have done so much work for us,” Koot said.

Hopkins Retrospective‘ Program Manager Allison Seyler has led the charge in exploring Johns Hopkins’ history through the ‘Reexamining Hopkins History Initiative.’ Throughout research efforts, the group has “publicly present[ed] archival material to create a more nuanced picture of our founder, Johns Hopkins and his family and their relationship with slavery and its legacies.”

Seyler hopes to utilize the USS in establishing collaborative partnerships in future endeavors.

“They focused on the synergy and support they feel working together as historian and archivist, acting as a collective and collaborating rather than using each other’s work without credit or in a competitive fashion,” Seyler said.

While universities continue to join the consortium and understand their histories, Loyola will work alongside and learn from their USS partners to ensure that their recommendations are implemented and taken seriously.

Alexis (Lexi) Faison is senior and a student representative of the President’s Task Force Examining Loyola’s Connections to Slavery, a researcher, and an editor of the upcoming book: Untold Truths: Exposing Slavery and Its Legacies at Loyola University Maryland. In the last part of the series, she will explore the impact of the publication Untold Truths: Slavery and Its Legacies at Loyola University Maryland on the student body and local communities.

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