Tamara Lanier is suing Harvard for using an image of her ancestors who were slaves and profiting off the image, USA Today details. The image in question is from 1850 and is said to be the earliest photos of American slaves. The image shows an African man named Renty and his daughter, Delia stripped naked and photographed at different angles.
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A former biology professor, Louis Agassiz, commissioned the image to support his debunked theory that African-Americans were inferior to white people. That's where Tamara comes in with her lawsuit, suing the Ivy League school for ignoring her requests to "stop licensing the pictures for the university's profit." Tamara is suing for an unspecified amount and is demanding her family photos get returned back to her.
Apparently, Tamara reached out to the school in 2011, but they've ignored her requests. "This will force them to look at my information," she said of her suit. "It will also force them to publicly have the discussion about who Renty was and restoring him his dignity."
"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," she added. "Harvard's refusal to honor our family's history by acknowledging our lineage and its own shameful past is an insult to Papa Renty's life and memory."