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Crump Wins Historic Ruling by MA Supreme Court in Harvard Reparations Case

Benjamin Crump


Renowned Civil Rights Attorney Crump Made Oral Arguments Before Massachusetts Supreme Court on Behalf of Descendants of Enslaved People Exploited to Prove White Supremacy

BOSTONJune 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Internationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump earned a historic decision this week by the Massachusetts Supreme Court on behalf of Tamara Lanier, the direct descendant of a slave, Congo “Papa” Renty, to uphold their lawsuit against Harvard University. Crump called it a historic victory for Black Americans.

The high court of Massachusetts heard oral arguments from Crump in November of 2021, where he defended the rights of Tamara Lanier, a descendant of slaves who were photographed by a Harvard professor to prove the inferiority of Black people. Harvard continued to use and profit from the offensive photos even after learning of Lanier’s lineage and claim to them.

“As a free Black man, I am honored to have been at the forefront of this fight against the lasting remnants of slavery and the very institutions that benefited from the exploitation of Black ancestors. The high court recognized ‘Harvard’s complicity in the horrific actions surrounding the creation of the daguerreotypes,’ which were created to prove the inferiority of Black people, treating these enslaved people like lab rats,” said Crump.

The daguerreotypes were commissioned in 1850 to support the research of renowned Harvard professor Louis Agassiz, who was seeking to prove the inferiority of the Black race. Harvard dismissed Lanier’s claims of relation to Renty and did not inform her on how the photos were being used by the university. Harvard used Renty’s image on the front cover of a book and prominently features the photos in materials used for a conference it hosted.

Tamara Lanier carefully traced her lineage and then heroically stood up to defend her ancestors and the abuse they endured. It is an honor to have been in Tamara’s corner throughout this battle against Harvard and their egregious actions against her family, and I look forward to standing beside Tamara when we prove her case to a jury,” said Crump.

As stated by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts:

“We have no doubt that Agassiz’s actions in 1850 – having Renty and Delia taken, stripped, and forced to pose for the dags – would meet these requirements. What is directly at issue her in, however, the separate question whether Harvard’s conduct toward a descendant of Renty and Delia nearly 170 years later satisfied these stringent requirements. Nevertheless, as emphasize in connection with Lanier’s negligent infliction of emotional distress claim, Harvard’s present actions cannot be divorced from its past misconduct.”

SOURCE Ben Crump Law

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