If Harvard University isn’t being sued for some sort of racial infraction, it must not feel quite right.  You might remember that the university was sued by Asian Americans after it allegedly discriminated against them in the admissions process.

The most recent racially-inflamed lawsuit comes after an accusation that it is profiting from old photos of American slaves.

Apparently, in 1850, a Harvard professor took one the earliest photographs of American slaves in a Columbia, South Carolina studio.  Known as “daguerreotype,” it portrayed the slaves as subhuman to promote the idea that black people were inferior to white people.  The slaves, stripped naked, were photographed from many different, undignified angles. A woman who claims to be the ancestor of those slaves is suing Harvard for “wrongful seizure, possession and monetization of the images.”

USA Today reported more on this:

Among the photographed: an African man named Renty and his daughter, Delia. They were stripped naked and photographed from several angles. Former professor Louis Agassiz, a biologist, had the photos taken to support an erroneous theory called polygenism that he and others used to argue that African-Americans were inferior to white people.

Among the photographed: an African man named Renty and his daughter, Delia. They were stripped naked and photographed from several angles. Former professor Louis Agassiz, a biologist, had the photos taken to support an erroneous theory called polygenism that he and others used to argue that African-Americans were inferior to white people.

Now, a woman who says she is a direct descendant of that father and child – Tamara Lanier, the great-great-great granddaughter of Renty – is suing Harvard over the photos.

She has accused Harvard of the wrongful seizure, possession and monetization of the images, ignoring her requests to “stop licensing the pictures for the university’s profit” and misrepresenting the ancestor she calls “Papa Renty.”

“For years, Papa Renty’s slave owners profited from his suffering. It’s time for Harvard to stop doing the same thing to our family,” Lanier told USA Today.

Wow.  Looks like Harvard has a long history of racism.  Will they ever decide to do the right thing?

Here’s a video about these horrific photos:

Image Credit: Okinawa Soba (Rob) on Flickr

Hat Tip: USA Today

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

6 + 17 =