19. 37th and O Street

37th and O Street
Photo by Bob Rives

Reverend Patrick Healy, S.J. Hall and Gravesite, Georgetown University

The child of enslaved African American, Mary Eliza, and an Irish planter from Georgia, Rev. Patrick Healy’s father sent his mulatto children  north for an education.  He was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1864 (the first African American), ordained a Doctor of Sacred theology degree at the Jesuit Theologate at Louvain, Belgium in 1865, then returned to Georgetown University in 1866 as (the first African American) a professor of philosophy in Perfect of Studies from 1868-1873. As President of Georgetown University from 1873 – 1882, he was the first African American president of a major white university in the United States. Under his leadership, he directed the expansion of Georgetown University and the building of Healy Hall. He is interred at the University. Healy passed as white and never embraced his blackness. “Passing For White” by James M. O’Toole specifically focuses on the Healy family and their attempts to pass for white and deal with racial discrimination. His portrait slashed and his “race problem”, at times held against him by Jesuits aware of his African American heritage, Healy relied on the Jesuits at Holy Cross, including Thomas Mulledy (who ironically authorized the sale of 272 slaves to finance Georgetown College) to shield him and his family.

(Source: Matthew Quallen)