Harvard Sued Over Photos of Slaves
Tamara Lanier is suing Harvard University, which has 19th-century daguerreotypes -- believed to be the earliest-known images of enslaved people in the United States -- over photos of a man and his daughter who she says are her ancestors. She contends that the Ivy League school is profiting from those images and says Harvard is refusing to return them to the descendants. The daguerreotypes were commissioned in 1850 by a university professor who used them to assert that Black people were biologically inferior to other races, according to the complaint. Lanier said Wednesday at a news conference in New York that she had contacted Harvard numerous times. "But they’ve either been unresponsive or dismissive of me and questioned my genealogy,” she said. The lawsuit filed in Middlesex County Superior Court in MA, against Harvard and the school’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, seeks the return of the photos to Lanier and damages. Renowned lawyer Ben Crump, another of Lanier’s attorneys, called on Harvard to denounce slavery and white supremacy “if they have the courage.” Harvard recently joined the Universities Studying Slavery, a consortium of more than 50 institutions exploring their past. More here.