Free Renty: Lanier vs Harvard

Saturday 11th February 2pm

“The question is, who owns the rights to the violence of the past? Is it the victim or the perpetrator? ”

— Tamara Lanier

FREE RENTY tells the story of Tamara Lanier, an African American woman determined to force Harvard University to give up possession of images of her great-great-great grandfather, an enslaved man named Renty.

The images were commissioned in 1850 by a Harvard professor to “prove” the superiority of the white race. The images remain emblematic of America’s failure to acknowledge the cruelty of slavery, the racist science that supported it and the white supremacy that continues to infect our society today. The film focuses on Lanier and tracks her lawsuit against Harvard, and features attorney Benjamin Crump, author Ta-Nehisi Coates and scholars Ariella Azoulay and Tina Campt.

Following this special screening, Dr. Althea Legal-Miller, Senior Lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, will lead discussion about the implications of this trial. We will be joined by director David Grubin and also hope to feature key film speaker Tamara Lanier via Zoom.

Tickets £6.50 from  or visit

This film is part of the African Odysseys programme at the BFI set up by Black History Walks 15 years ago. We show African Diaspora films once a month plus Q&A. It is the only such programme in the country and has shown hundreds of films to tens of thousands of people.


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