Harvard Profits From Photos Of Slaves (Reports)

0
490
Harvard Profits From Photos Of Slaves (Reports)
Harvard Profits From Photos Of Slaves (Reports)

Coronavirus USA news live: Latest updates

277,607
Confirmed
7,406
Deaths
12,283
Recovered

Harvard University has “shamelessly” turned a profit from photos of two 19th-century slaves while ignoring requests to turn the photos over to the slaves’ descendants, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Tamara Lanier, of Norwich, Connecticut, is suing the Ivy League school for “wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation” of images she says depict two of her ancestors. Her suit, filed in Massachusetts state court, demands that Harvard immediately turn over the photos, acknowledge her ancestry and pay an unspecified sum in damages.

Harvard spokesman Jonathan Swain said the university “has not yet been served, and with that is in no position to comment on this complaint.”

At the center of the case is a series of 1850 daguerreotypes, an early type of photo, taken of two South Carolina slaves identified as Renty and his daughter, Delia. Both were posed shirtless and photographed from several angles. The images are believed to be the earliest known photos of American slaves.

Coronavirus live updates:
Country Confirmed Deaths Recovered
World 1,133,453 60,379 236,000
USA 277,607 7,406 12,283
Spain 124,736 11,744 34,219
Italy 119,827 14,681 19,758
Germany 91,159 1,275 24,575
France 82,165 6,507 14,008
Iran 55,743 3,452 19,736
UK 38,168 3,605 135
Turkey 20,921 425 484
Switzerland 20,278 620 4,846
Belgium 18,431 1,283 3,247
Netherlands 16,627 1,651 250
Canada 12,549 208 2,322
Austria 11,781 186 2,507
Portugal 10,524 266 75
S. Korea 10,156 177 6,325
Brazil 9,216 365 127
Israel 7,589 43 427
Sweden 6,131 358 205
Australia 5,550 30 585
Norway 5,519 61 32
Russia 4,731 43 333
Ireland 4,273 120 25
Czechia 4,194 56 74
Denmark 4,077 161 1,283
Chile 3,737 22 427
Romania 3,613 141 329
Poland 3,503 73 116
Malaysia 3,483 57 915
Ecuador 3,368 145 65
Philippines 3,094 144 57
India 3,082 86 229
Japan 2,935 69 514
Pakistan 2,708 41 130
Luxembourg 2,612 31 500
Indonesia 2,092 191 150
Thailand 2,067 20 612
Saudi Arabia 2,039 25 351
Finland 1,882 20 300
Mexico 1,688 60 633
Panama 1,673 41 10
Greece 1,643 67 78
Peru 1,595 61 537
South Africa 1,505 9 95
Dominican Republic 1,488 68 16
Serbia 1,476 39 54
Iceland 1,364 4 336
Argentina 1,353 42 266
Colombia 1,267 25 55
UAE 1,264 9 108
Algeria 1,171 105 62
Singapore 1,114 6 282
Ukraine 1,096 28 23
Croatia 1,079 12 92
Qatar 1,075 3 93
Estonia 1,018 13 59
Egypt 985 66 216
Slovenia 977 22 70
New Zealand 950 1 127
Hong Kong 862 4 173
Morocco 844 50 59
Iraq 820 54 226
Lithuania 771 10 7
Armenia 770 7 43
Diamond Princess 712 11 619
Bahrain 688 4 399
Hungary 678 32 58
Bosnia 616 19 27
Moldova, Republic of 591 10 26
Kazakhstan 525 5 36
Azerbaijan 521 5 32
Lebanon 520 17 50
Cameroon 509 8 17
Latvia 509 1 1
Bulgaria 498 15 34
Tunisia 495 18 5
Kuwait 479 1 93
Slovakia 471 1 10
Andorra 439 16 16
Macedonia 430 12 20
Costa Rica 416 2 11
Cyprus 396 11 28
Uruguay 386 4 86
Taiwan 355 5 50
Belarus 351 4 53
Albania 332 18 99
Réunion 321 0 40
Jordan 310 5 58
Burkina Faso 302 16 50
Afghanistan 299 7 10
Oman 277 1 61
Cuba 269 6 15
Honduras 264 15 3
San Marino 251 32 26
Uzbekistan 241 2 25
Vietnam 240 0 90
Channel Islands 232 5 13
Côte d'Ivoire 218 1 19
Malta 213 0 2
Nigeria 210 4 25
Senegal 207 1 66
Ghana 205 5 31
Palestinian Territory, Occupied 205 1 21
Montenegro 197 2 1
Mauritius 196 7 0
Faroe Islands 181 0 93
Sri Lanka 162 5 25
Georgia 157 1 28
Venezuela 153 7 52
DRC 148 16 3
Kyrgyzstan 144 1 9
Martinique 143 3 27
Bolivia 139 10 1
Brunei 135 1 66
Guadeloupe 130 7 24
Mayotte 128 2 10
Kenya 122 4 4
Isle of Man 121 1 0
Niger 120 5 0
Cambodia 114 0 50
Trinidad and Tobago 100 6 1
Paraguay 96 3 12
Gibraltar 95 0 46
Rwanda 89 0 0
Liechtenstein 75 0 0
Guinea 73 0 2
Bangladesh 70 8 30
Madagascar 70 0 0
Monaco 64 1 3
Aruba 62 0 1
French Guiana 57 0 22
El Salvador 56 3 0
Jamaica 53 3 7
Barbados 51 0 0
Guatemala 50 1 12
Djibouti 50 0 8
Uganda 48 0 0
Macao 43 0 10
Togo 40 3 17
Mali 39 3 0
Zambia 39 1 2
French Polynesia 39 0 0
Ethiopia 38 0 4
Bermuda 35 0 14
Cayman Islands 29 1 1
Bahamas 24 3 0
Guyana 23 4 0
Sint Maarten 23 4 6
Congo 22 2 2
Saint Martin 22 1 2
Eritrea 22 0 0
Gabon 21 1 1
Myanmar 20 1 0
Tanzania, United Republic of 20 1 3
Maldives 19 0 13
Haiti 18 0 1
New Caledonia 18 0 1
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 17 1 0
Syrian Arab Republic 16 2 2
Benin 16 0 2
Equatorial Guinea 16 0 1
Antigua and Barbuda 15 0 0
Guinea-Bissau 15 0 0
Dominica 14 0 0
Mongolia 14 0 2
Namibia 14 0 3
Saint Lucia 13 0 1
Fiji 12 0 0
Grenada 12 0 0
Curaçao 11 1 3
Sudan 10 2 2
Suriname 10 1 0
Greenland 10 0 3
Lao People's Democratic Republic 10 0 0
Mozambique 10 0 0
Seychelles 10 0 0
MS Zaandam 9 2 0
Zimbabwe 9 1 0
Nepal 9 0 1
Chad 9 0 0
Saint Kitts and Nevis 9 0 0
Swaziland 9 0 0
Angola 8 2 1
Central African Republic 8 0 0
Cabo Verde 7 1 0
Holy See (Vatican City State) 7 0 0
Liberia 7 0 0
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 7 0 1
Somalia 7 0 1
Mauritania 6 1 2
Montserrat 6 0 0
St. Barth 6 0 1
Nicaragua 5 1 0
Bhutan 5 0 2
Turks and Caicos Islands 5 0 0
Botswana 4 1 0
Gambia 4 1 2
Belize 4 0 0
Malawi 4 0 0
Anguilla 3 0 0
British Virgin Islands 3 0 0
Burundi 3 0 0
Caribbean Netherlands 2 0 0
Sierra Leone 2 0 0
Falkland Islands 1 0 0
Papua New Guinea 1 0 0
Timor-Leste 1 0 0
China 81,639 3,326 76,755

They were commissioned by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, whose theories on racial difference were used to support slavery in the U.S. The lawsuit says Agassiz came across Renty and Delia while touring plantations in search of racially “pure” slaves born in Africa.

“To Agassiz, Renty and Delia were nothing more than research specimens,” the suit says. “The violence of compelling them to participate in a degrading exercise designed to prove their own subhuman status would not have occurred to him, let alone mattered.”

READ  New Zealand woman Toni Kelly dies taking selfie

The suit attacks Harvard for its “exploitation” of Renty’s image at a 2017 conference and in other uses. It says Harvard has capitalized on the photos by demanding a “hefty” licensing fee to reproduce the images. It also draws attention to a book Harvard sells for $40 with Renty’s portrait on the cover. The book, called “From Site to Sight: Anthropology, Photography, and the Power of Imagery,” explores the use of photography in anthropology.

Among other demands, the suit asks Harvard to acknowledge that it bears responsibility for the humiliation of Renty and Delia and that Harvard “was complicit in perpetuating and justifying the institution of slavery.”

A researcher at a Harvard museum rediscovered the photos in storage in 1976. But Lanier’s case argues Agassiz never legally owned the photos because he didn’t have his subjects’ consent and that he didn’t have the right to pass them to Harvard. Instead, the suit says, Lanier is the rightful owner as Renty’s next of kin.

The suit also argues that Harvard’s continued possession of the images violates the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.

“Renty is 169 years a slave by our calculation,” civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, one of Lanier’s lawyers, said in an interview. “How long will it be before Harvard finally frees Renty?”

READ  Us Man Freed After Doppelganger Found 17 Years Later

Lanier says she grew up hearing stories about Renty passed down from her mother. While enslaved in Columbia, South Carolina, Renty taught himself to read and later held secret Bible readings on the plantation, the suit says. He is described as “small in stature but towering in the minds of those who knew him.”

The suit says Lanier has verified her genealogical ties to Renty, whom she calls “Papa Renty.” She says he is her great-great-great-grandfather.

If given the photos, Lanier said she would tell “the true story of who Renty was.” But she also hopes her case will spark a national discussion over race and history.

“This case is important because it will test the moral climate of this country, and force this country to reckon with its long history of racism,” Lanier said at a news conference outside the Harvard Club of New York City.

Crump, her attorney, added that the case could allow Harvard to “remove the stain from its legacy” and show it has the courage “to finally atone for slavery.”

Lanier alleges that she wrote to Harvard in 2011 detailing her ties to Renty. In a letter to Drew Faust, then Harvard’s president, Lanier said she wanted to learn more about the images and how they would be used. She was more explicit in 2017, demanding that Harvard relinquish the photos. In both cases, she said, Harvard responded but evaded her requests.

READ  Portugal selfie deaths: couple dies after reportedly falling while taking selfie

The school has used the photos as part of its own effort to confront its historical ties to slavery. At the 2017 conference called “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History,” referenced in the lawsuit, Harvard printed Renty’s portrait on the program cover and projected it on a giant screen above the stage.

In the image, Renty stares hauntingly into the camera, his hair graying and his gaunt frame exposed.

Lanier, who was in the audience at the event, said she was stunned by a passage in the program that described the origins of the photo but seemed to dismiss her genealogical findings. It said that the photo was taken for Agassiz’s research and that “while Agassiz earned acclaim, Renty returned to invisibility.”

The suit alleges that “by contesting Ms. Lanier’s claim of lineage, Harvard is shamelessly capitalizing on the intentional damage done to black Americans’ genealogy by a century’s worth of policies that forcibly separated families, erased slaves’ family names, withheld birth and death records, and criminalized literacy.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.