Harvard will respond to lawsuit over photos of slaves taken for racist research in 1850 | World

The highest court in the state of Massachusetts ruled this Thursday (23) that Harvard University can be sued for mistreating a descendant of slaves who were forced to be photographed in 1850 for a study of a professor who tried to prove the inferiority of black people.

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

But the court said the university you don’t need to hand the photos to Lanierconcluding that despite the “scandalous” circumstances, the Connecticut woman has no property right over them.

The decision partially resurrects a lawsuit Lanier began in 2019. Lanier and her attorneys, Ben Crump and Josh Koskoff, said in a joint statement that the “historic” decision would allow her 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” dismissed Lanier’s claims of an ancestral link and disregarded his requests for information about how he was using the images, including when the university used Renty’s photo on the cover of a book.

Understand what structural racism is

Understand what structural racism is

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