One hundred and sixty years ago, a court decision in St. Louis shook the nation.
The Dred Scott case, which began in a local courtroom, ended with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that slaves had no rights — and that the "Missouri Compromise" was unconstitutional. Congress, the court decided, did not have the right to prohibit slavery. The decision, issued March 6, 1857, ultimately lit the match that ignited the Civil War.
This Saturday, August 12, a Festival of Freedom remembers Scott's life — and honors his family's fight for freedom.
For the first time ever, the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation will team up with the Missouri History Museum for this year's event. The festival is set to be held on site from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation, the festivities include the St. Louis premiere of the play A Man of His Time, performed by the Black Rep. There will also be a presentation by Lynn Madison Jackson, “Dred Scott: The History You Never Knew,” revealing unknown facts about the relationship between St. Louis and the Dred Scott case. “Dred Scott Presents Sons and Daughters of Reconciliation,” a panel discussion, will feature descendants of not only Dred Scott, but also Thomas Jefferson, Scott’s owners, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (who wrote the opinion in the Scott case) and Jefferson Davis.
A musical composition entitled Freedom Suite, written for the Dred Scott family by Dr. Barbara Harbach, Professor of Music at the University of Missouri–St.
Kids will have the chance to learn from special activities created for their age by Time 4 Fun and spend time coloring The Dred Scott Activity and Coloring Book, at the History Clubhouse for Kids.
Local actors John LaGrone and Peggy Nealy Harris from the Dred Scott Theatre Troupe and the Missouri History Museum’s Civil Rights Exhibit will be portraying important figures from the Dred Scott case. Local artists Debi Pickler and Cbabi Bayoc will make art on the scene in the Grand Hall.
Currently, the Missouri History Museum is hosting an exhibit on civil rights, which people are encouraged to take a look at during the day as well.
“This anniversary year is marked by two critical events: The apology to me from Charlie Taney, a descendant of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, in Maryland on March 6, 2017, and this Freedom Festival," says Lynne Jackson, great-great granddaughter of Dred Scott and president and founder of The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. "Both are very meaningful and historic events for the 160th anniversary of the Dred Scott Decision. We look forward to sharing the day with everyone."
The event is free and open to the public.