Harvard Law Committee Recommends Dropping Controversial Seal
A specially-formed committee comprised of Harvard Law School faculty, staff, students and alumni have made a decision to suggest the removal of school’s seal. The long-standing shield has a reference to the Isaac Royall family, which owned and abused slaves. The decision comes after months of student protests.
“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,” the committee said in a statement. Only two of the 12 committee members voted against the change. Jeff Neal, a Harvard University spokesperson told the Boston Globe the university would review the recommendation and determine a course of action thereafter.
The current Harvard Law School seal contains the word “Veritas” as well as three sheaves of wheat, which are derived from the Isaac Royall family coat of arms. Royall, who used his life’s fortune to establish Harvard’s first law professorship in the 18th century was “the son of an Antiguan slaveholder known to have treated his slaves with extreme cruelty,” the law school says. The seal, which was designed and created by Pierre de Chaignonla Rose in 1936, is of course all over buildings in Harvard Law School as well as merchandise.
Shortly after these reports came out last October, a student group called Royall Must Fall was established and demanded the removal of the seal. In November, Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow established the committee to weigh in on the demands. “I endorse the recommendation to retire the shield because its association with slavery does not represent the values and aspirations of the Harvard Law School and because it has become a source of division rather than commonality in our community,” Minow wrote in a letter after the decision.
Royall Must Fall responded with a Facebook post acknowledging a step in the right direction but are not yet satisfied.
“This does not represent the final destination, but only an advance in the struggle for racial justice against white supremacy at Harvard Law,” the group said. “Royall Must Fall will continue to fight … to ensure that this school becomes the justice school it holds itself out to be.”
Source: Boston Globe
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