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Woman suing Harvard over slave portraits gets key support

FILE - In this March 20, 2019 file photo Tamara Lanier attends a news conference near the Harvard Club, in New York. Lanier, of Norwich, Conn., is suing the Harvard University for "wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation" of images she says depict two of her ancestors. Descendants of a Harvard professor who commissioned a series of 1850 photos of slaves say they're backing the lawsuit against the university. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A woman suing Harvard University over 19th century images of slaves she says were her ancestors has received the backing of descendants of the professor who commissioned the images in his attempt to prove blacks were inferior to whites.

Dozens of descendants of professor Louis Agassiz have signed a letter saying it’s time for Harvard to recognize Agassiz for the racist he was and calling on the Ivy League school to hand over the images to Tamara Lanier.

The Agassiz descendants as well as Lanier have scheduled a news conference Thursday.

The Norwich, Connecticut, woman wants Harvard to give her the images and pay unspecified damages.

A Harvard spokeswoman in an emailed statement Thursday said while she cannot comment on pending litigation, the school takes great care of the images.

The Associated Press