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2022 Stone Memorial Lecture: Tamara Lanier

October 27, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The 2022 Sonja Haynes Stone Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Tamara Lanier, the great-great-great granddaughter of ‘Papa Renty’, whose image, aside from being an important record of the life of an enslaved individual, is the subject of one of the most important legal contests over the rights of descendants of enslaved persons in the United States.

In 2019, Tamara Lanier filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts for the right to seek redress from Harvard University for emotional distress over a series of photos depicting her enslaved ancestors, Renty Taylor and his daughter, Delia Taylor of South Carolina.

After legal setbacks in the lower courts, the case received a favorable hearing in the higher courts culminating in the landmark decision by the Massachusetts’ Supreme Court which held that legal claims by descendants can proceed against Harvard University for the historical photos which the university still owns.

Lanier’s two enslaved ancestors were photographed shirtless from several angles in pictures commissioned by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, who espoused theories on racial difference used to support slavery in the US.

Tamara Lanier is a 27-year veteran of the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, retiring in 2017 as a Chief Probation Officer II in the Norwich Probation Office.

She has a long and distinguished record of public service and social advocacy with past affiliations with organizations such as The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; A Commissioner for the City of Norwich Ethics Commission; The U.S. Attorney’s working group to monitor federal and state civil rights compliance with educational institutions; and a member of the Commissioner of Education’s Roundtable for family and Community Engagement. Recently, Lanier was appointed by Governor Ned Lamont to the States first Hate Crime Advisory Council.

The Stone Memorial Lecture is an annual program dedicated to the memory the late Dr. Sonja Haynes Stone for whom the center is named. Previous Stone lecturers have included Angela Davis, Edwidge Danticat, and Nnenna Freelon.

If you’d like to attend the lecture, please be sure to RSVP here.


October 27, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Stone Center