A bicyclist walks by Langdell Hall, the Harvard Law Library, on the campus of the Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 1, 2005.
Photo by Charles Krupa/AP

Harvard agrees to retire law school shield tied to slavery

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts — Harvard University is retiring the official shield of its law school following complaints over its ties to an 18th-century slaveholder.

The university’s governing body announced the decision Monday, supporting a campus committee’s previous recommendation to remove the shield.

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The shield was approved in 1937 and depicts three bundles of wheat. It’s modeled after the family crest of slaveholder Isaac Royall Jr., who donated his estate to create the first law professorship at Harvard. Royall inherited his estate and many slaves from his father, a slaveholder who was known for his cruelty.

Students formed a group last fall calling for removal of the shield.

Harvard’s governing body says the law school should propose a new shield that better represents its values. It emphasized the importance of recognizing, not erasing, school history.

Harvard and Higher Education

Harvard agrees to retire law school shield tied to slavery