Harvard Law School scraps official crest in slavery row

harvard law

Source: BBC

Harvard Law School is to change its official seal, after a protest that it had links to slavery.

The law school, part of the US university, has a seal that includes the crest of a notoriously brutal 18th Century slave owner.

Students have been holding protests and sit-ins calling for a change in this official emblem.

A Harvard Law School committee says the seal no longer represents the institution’s values.

Last week, the university announced that it would stop using the term “master” in academic titles, because of connotations of slavery.

Protests on campus have attacked the use of the official seal over its link with the Royall family, whose family coat of arms are incorporated in the emblem.

This reflects the role of Isaac Royall, an 18th Century businessman who funded the first professorship of law at Harvard.

But the law school committee, in its recommendation for scrapping the seal, notes that he was also known for “extreme cruelty”, including burning 77 slaves alive.

Harvard Law School is now accepting calls for the withdrawal of the shield, which has been in use by the school since the 1930s.

But the decision to remove the emblem was not unanimous within the 12-member committee, with two people arguing that it should be retained.

The school’s dean, Martha Minow, reporting to the university’s ruling body, said: “We believe that if the law school is to have an official symbol, it must more closely represent the values of the law school, which the current shield does not.”

In a message to staff and students, Dean Minow said the shield had become “a source of division rather than commonality in our community” and because of the associations with slavery it should be “retired”.

There have been waves of campus protests about issues of race and representation.

Earlier this year, Amherst College, in Massachusetts, accepted student demands to drop links with its informal mascot, Jeffery Amherst, an 18th Century general accused of advocating infecting native Americans with smallpox.

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