Lawsuit Charges Harvard with Profiting from Photos of Enslaved People

HeadlineMar 21, 2019

And in Massachusetts, the descendant of two enslaved people who were captured in mid-19th century photographs has sued Harvard, accusing the university of unfairly profiting from their images. Tamara Lanier of Connecticut argues in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that she and other descendants of Renty and Delia—two people held in bondage 169 years ago—should hold the rights to their photographs, not Harvard. Renty and Delia were forced to pose for the photographs in 1850 by a Harvard professor. Their images were used in a recent Harvard conference titled “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History.” This comes after administrators at Harvard and other elite universities have admitted the schools were founded largely through the labor of enslaved African people and profits generated by the slave trade.

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