A Vision of (In)Justice: Harvard Archives Bear a Strange Fruit by Jarrett M. Drake

At last month’s “Vision & Justice” convening hosted by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, luminaries from Harvard and beyond came together to consider the most pressing problems at the juncture of justice, arts, and race. In particular, the conference description characterized the “foundational right of representation in a democracy” as “the right to be recognized justly.”

So it was peculiar that neither the event nor the subsequent publicationreferenced the ongoing struggle of Tamara Lanier to retrieve­ daguerreotypes of her enslaved ancestors, Renty and Delia, currently held by Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology. A black woman’s battle against Harvard for family photographs somehow did not take center stage at Sanders Theatre during a conference about images that also featured numerous speakers and scholars who built careers studying slavery and its afterlives. 

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