Slave owner Isaac Royall Jr.’s gift to Harvard college upon his death in 1781 allowed the formation of Harvard Law School.
Now, students at the law school are calling for the removal of the law school’s seal, which is the Royall family’s coat of arms, The Harvard Crimson reported.
The movement is being called “Royall Must Fall” and formally began on campus at the end of October with a rally of about 25 people.
“These symbols set the tone for the rest of the school and the fact that we hold up the Harvard crest as something to be proud of when it represents something so ugly is a profound disappointment and should be a source of shame for the whole school,” Alexander J. Clayborne, one of the law students involved, told The Crimson.
More largely, the students aims seem to draw attention to and correct the legacy of slave-owning on Harvard’s campus.
“We demand the removal of the Harvard family crest as the crest of the law school and we demand that the Royall Chair of Law be renamed as well,” Students for Inclusion, a student group on campus, wrote on its Tumblr page.
“We also demand that systemic oppression be recognized as pervasive and endemic to the law school and we demand that it be addressed by the faculty and by the student body at large.”
However, there are dissenting opinions on whether the school should change its seal.
Visiting law school professor, Daniel R. Coquillette, recently published a book called “The Saga of Harvard Law School,” which details the relationship between the Royall family and Harvard.
While he calls Royall “a coward, and a brutal slaveholder,” he doesn’t believe Harvard should change its seal.
“As a historian… you just deal with the fact that this guy founded the school and tell the truth about it,” he said. “To change things is to act like [they] didn’t happen, and that’s a mistake.”