18 Mar 2021

Mayer Brown advises on $1bn foundation to compensate descendants of slaves

Charity was founded by the GU272 Descendants Association and a group of Jesuits

White-Gravenor Hall at Georgetown University Jon Bilous; Shutterstock

US firm Mayer Brown has advised on the creation of a foundation and trust that will allocate $1bn for descendants of slaves.

The Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Foundation was founded by the GU272 Descendants Association and a group of Jesuits – a partnership between the descendants of enslaved people and the descendants of their enslavers. The partnership references events in 1838 when the Jesuit owners of Georgetown University sold 272 enslaved people to plantation owners in Louisiana to pay off the university’s debts. 

The Chicago-based Mayer Brown team that advised on the creation of the foundation and trust was led by private client, trusts and estates partner James Casey and supported by private client, trusts and estates partner Sophia Yanuzzi and two associates.

Casey said: “The Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Trust and the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation have been carefully designed to provide the framework for the long-overdue and much-needed truth, healing, reconciliation and transformation in organisations, communities and individuals in our nation.”

He added: “By supporting these unique institutions through their development years, Mayer Brown is affirming its core commitment to corporate social responsibility to bring about meaningful change in our nation by fighting systemic racism and promoting racial equity.”

The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the US has pledged $100m towards the $1bn target. Once raised, the money will be distributed in $50m increments every year, according to CNN.

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