Harvard to answer case for “horrible” slave photos, court rules

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Massachusetts Higher Court on Thursday ruled that Harvard University could be sued for mistreating a descendant of slaves who were forced to be photographed in 1850 for a study by a professor trying to prove the inferiority of blacks. .

The Massachusetts Supreme Court of Justice ruled that Harvard’s “horrific and historic role” in creating the images meant that the university had a duty to respond carefully to Tamara Lanier’s inquiries about the images, which, she said. , the university did not.

But the court said the university did not need to hand over the photos to Lanier, concluding that, despite the “scandalous” circumstances, the Connecticut woman has no property rights to them.

The decision partially resurrects a lawsuit initiated by Lanier in 2019. Lanier and his lawyers, Ben Crump and Josh Koskoff, said in a joint statement that the “historic” decision would allow them to “continue this legal and moral battle for Justice”.

Harvard, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said it was reviewing the decision.

The footage shows Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, slaves on a North Carolina plantation who were forced to undress for photos taken for a racist study by Harvard professor Louis Agassiz.

Judge Scott Kafker wrote that Harvard had “blatantly” rejected Lanier’s claims of an ancestral connection and ignored his inquiries about how he was using the images, including when the university used Renty’s photo on the cover of a book.

Source: Terra

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