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Harvard Law to Remove Shield
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Summary: Harvard Law School will begin the process of removing their shield after the connection with a brutal slave owning family was discovered.

After several months of debates over the controversial school shield, Harvard Law School announced they will be removing it. The family coat of arms from early donor and slaveholder Isaac Royall Jr. will no longer represent the law school.


A student group hailed as “Royall Must Fall” has been calling for the removal since the beginning of the school year, prompting the school to form a 12-member committee comprised of alumni, faculty, and students. The committee came to a conclusion earlier this month to recommend the removal of the shield.

The Harvard Corp. suggested to law dean Martha Minow to propose a new shield, “Given these circumstances, and with the law school’s own bicentennial approaching in 2017, we believe that school should have the opportunity to propose a new shield that, more closely represents the values of the law school – one conducive to unifying the law school community rather than dividing it.”

Minow explained, “We cannot choose our history but we can choose that for which we stand. Above all we rededicate ourselves to the hard work of eradicating not just the symbols of injustice but injustice itself.”

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The committee’s report made a point of distinguishing the fact that Royall endowed the school with its first professorship in 1781 but the seal wasn’t adopted until 1936, not knowing about the connection to slavery. Their report states, “It is undeniable that the law school of the present is very different from the law school of 1937 for which the family crest of a slave-owner could be chosen as its official symbol without anyone seeing the association with slavery. We cannot un-see what we now know, nor should we. The law school would not today honor Isaac Royall and his bequest by taking his crest as its official symbol.”




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