The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, his daughter Delia, along with other enslaved men and women, more than presenting subjects bound by unfreedom, offer evidence of the violence and brutality of American slavery, whose dismissals and denials haunt the nation still.
Renty Taylor wasn’t only an enslaved individual, he was much much more, and his story should concern us all.
Tamara Lanier’s battle for the ownership of her ancestors’ images is forcing the law to contend with the the institution of chattel slavery in interpreting intellectual property parameters.
“For years, Papa Renty’s slave owners profited from his suffering,” Lanier said in a statement at the time. “It’s time for Harvard to stop doing the same thing to our family.”
Many scholars write about imperial crimes as their object of study — that is, as something sealed in the past that can be separated from the reparations due.
“For years, Papa Renty’s slave owners profited from his suffering,” Tamara Lanier said in a statement. “It’s time for Harvard to stop doing the same thing to our family.”