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The Latest: Harvard can’t yet comment on slave-photo lawsuit

March 20, 2019

BOSTON (AP) — The Latest on a lawsuit over images held by Harvard University of slaves (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

Harvard University says it is not in a position to comment on a lawsuit complaining it has profited from images of two 19th-century slaves.

Spokesman Jonathan Swain said Wednesday that the Ivy League university has not yet been served with the lawsuit.

Tamara Lanier says in her lawsuit that Harvard has ignored her request to turn over the photos. The woman from Norwich, Connecticut, says the slaves depicted in the photos are her ancestors.

Lanier’s suit says the photos were commissioned by former Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, whose ideas were used to support the enslavement of Africans.

The lawsuit says Harvard requires “hefty” licensing fees to reproduce the photos, and has used one image on the cover of a book.

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10 a.m.

A Connecticut woman says Harvard University has “shamelessly” turned a profit from images of two 19th-century slaves she says are her ancestors.

Tamara Lanier, of Norwich, says in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that Harvard has ignored her request to turn over the photos. Her lawsuit in Massachusetts state court asks Harvard to relinquish them and pay unspecified damages.

A message was left with Harvard seeking comment.

The images depict a South Carolina slave named Renty and his daughter, Delia. Lanier says she is a direct descendant.

Lanier’s suit says the photos were commissioned by former Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, whose ideas were used to support the enslavement of Africans.

The lawsuit says Harvard requires “hefty” licensing fees to reproduce the photos, and has used one image on the cover of a book.