Sparking a Debate with Archives: An Overdue Conversation with Matthew Quallen

Jones, Thai; Moe, Melina

Georgetown students made international news in 2018 when they voted to add an activity fee to benefit the descendants of enslaved people sold in 1838 to pay off the university’s debt. As one of the first concrete steps toward reparations, the vote can be traced back to student activism, archival scholarship, as well as a series of articles in the student newspaper written by Matthew Quallen. On this episode of Overdue, we speak with Quallen, a lawyer and former Georgetown student who helped fuel the debate on campus with his articles quoting voices from the Georgetown Slavery Archives, including a letter sent from a plantation cabin on Florissant Farm— virtually the same site where a 150 years later Michael Brown was shot and killed. We speak about how archives have undergirded a range of important legal decisions, including the 2020 Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma that upheld the historic treaties the US government made with the Cherokee Nation.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Overdue Conversations
Published Here
November 29, 2022


This episode's duration is: 48:08