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Courts decide descendant of enslaved man can sue Harvard

Legal victory for Connecticut woman suing Harvard
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:59 PM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WFSB) - A major ruling coming out of the Massachusetts supreme court in favor of a Norwich woman.

Tamara Lanier claims Harvard University has been exploiting pictures of her ancestors by using them in banners and textbooks.

She sued the university and tonight she got the green light to have another day in court.

Lanier was very happy tonight; she was joined by her legal team which included civil rights attorney Ben Crump who represented families like George Floyd’s among others

Today the Massachusetts supreme court did not dismiss her claims and she can continue the legal fight.

Lanier wants to eventually claim ownership of the images which include her ancestors named Congo “Papa” Renty and his daughter Delia Taylor.

Both posed shirtless and photographed by a Harvard biologist whose theories on racial difference were used to support slavery.

Papa Renty and his daughter Delia.
Papa Renty and his daughter Delia.(919039361464473 | Wiki Commons)

Decades later Lanier wants justice.

“This man’s truth was crushed to the earth by Harvard. This man’s dignity, humanity was crushed to the earth by Harvard. But today it rises. Not only does it rise not just for Renty but for all the enslaved people,” said Lanier.

Crump said, “the court said that not only were you wrong then Harvard how you treated Papa Renty but you were wrong Harvard, how you treated his granddaughter. So, it was a landmark ruling we believe would be used by other courts all across America.”

Now the family will prepare to go to court again. They want Harvard officials to testify under oath.

Harvard says they are still reviewing the decision.