"Who Should Own Photos of Slaves? The Descendants, not Harvard . . ."
The New York Times
"Renty was a reader and teacher despite anti-literacy laws. . ."
USA Today
"Harvard shamelessly turned a profit from photos . . ."
The Guardian
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"Harvard accused of retaining and profiting from images of slaves."
The Washington Post
"170 Years a Slave - FREE Renty! . . ."
". . .a story of racism and exploitation . . ."
The CT Mirror

Imagine your family is photographed against their will, that their image is publicly displayed for profit, and you cannot prevent it.  This is what Harvard University and Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology are doing today - and it needs to STOP.

Lanier v. Harvard case, from the descendants themselves.  (3 min)

Student Video Letters to Harvard's President Bacow 


A Call for More Student Video Letters!

The Coalition is asking supporters to submit a 15-30 second video statement to Harvard stating why it is important to YOU that the University surrender images of Renty & Delia to their family.  INFO HERE

Be Heard, Be Seen and Be Recognized because


Free Renty tells the story of one African-American woman's struggle to reclaim her heritage.

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Compelling Articles

in Explanation, in Support, in Disbelief

Please Read & Share With Others


The New York Times - 3/4/2021

Images of Slaves Are Property of Harvard, Not a Descendant, Judge Rules   FULL ARTICLE

BBC News 3/5/2021

Judge dismisses suit over 'slave ancestor'

photos at Harvard   FULL ARTICLE

Harvard Crimson  3/4/2021

Massachusetts Court Dismisses Lawsuit Over Harvard's Possession of Slave Photos    FULL ARTICLE

Tamara Lanier plans to begin the process of appealing the decision.  


How You Can Help - We Need You


  • Historical Context and Justification by Mark D. Marderosian / Cohen & Marderosian

    The history of the Lanier v. Harvard case is so compelling and informative, those who are interested in the larger struggle are encouraged to read this document. More>

  • Countdown Begins

    An important story of an American family's fight for dignity, privacy and equal protection under the law.  Truth and reconciliation - a justice overdue. 


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  • Week 1

    Count down with us until the court date on September 8th, where Harvard Coalition to Free Renty DEMANDS the daguerreotypes be returned to the family!  


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  • Week 2

    Week 2 of the #FREERENTY campaign is leading up to the September 10th court hearing! The fight against modern day dehumanization, degradation, and profiting off of black bodies is here. Be heard, be seen, because YOU MATTER!


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  • Week 3

    Rolling out week 3 Student Voices For Change! Be a part of history.  More>

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  • Week 4

    Dear Harvard Students, Meet Renty

    For the first time publicly, hear from Tamara's Mother, Mattye Thompson Lanier -  a story of Renty.

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  • Webinar: Sep 8, 7pm

    The Power of

    Black Images & Identity

    RSVP for Truth!

    Sponsored by GAASA

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  • Court Date: Oct 20th

    Lanier v. Harvard UPDATE: The hearing is scheduled for 10/20, 2 pm ET


Slave descendant family, represented by Tamara Lanier.


This lawsuit, partnered with Harvard's entitled behavior, wounds student morale and pride.  SEE OFFICIAL SUIT FILING HERE


Three moral challenges to consider:

  • University President Bacow said, "I think we have the law on our side."


BUT using property law to argue ownership of slave photos when a family is fighting for images of their family members to be respected and surrender​ed, is thoughtless at best.

  • Harvard administrators claim their use and display of Renty and Delia's images emphasize the slaves' humanity.


BUT these photos were taken in the 1850s. Without consent, Renty and daughter were stripped, photographed, analyzed, and cataloged​. Continued use of these images in public domain when the family objects, certainly does NOT represent humanity.

  • Peabody's Director, Jane Pickering, self-appointed the museum an "ethical steward" of both images and stories of Renty and Delia, and announced its intention to further publicly promote them.


BUT why does Harvard and Peabody believe it is their duty to own images and stories of enslaved people and fight slave descendants to maintain this ownership?


Harvard Coalition to Free Renty

A student-led coalition to #FREERENTY - calls upon Harvard University and the Peabody Museum to surrender images of these individuals to their family and support reparations discussions.

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