Dred Scott Presents: Sons and Daughters of Reconciliation

In honor of the National Day of Racial Healing, this Understanding Hampton Roads panel discussion will feature a panel discussion with descendants of plaintiffs and judges in two landmark 19th-century U.S. Supreme Court cases that denied basic civil rights to Black citizens: the Dred Scott Decision and Plessy v. Ferguson.

The program will be on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 at 7 p.m. at the L. Douglas Wilder Center at Old Dominion University. The program is free, but seating is limited and advance registration required. 

Register here

Sponsors are the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University and Virginians for Reconciliation

Panelists:

Lynne M. Jackson of St. Louis, founder and director of The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. She is the great-great granddaughter of Dred Scott, the slave who sued for his freedom in 1857.

 

 

 

Charles Taney IV of Greenwich, CT, a nonprofit consultant and great-great-great nephew of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roger Brooke Taney, who wrote the decision that denied Dred Scott his freedom.

 

 

 

Keith Plessy of New Orleans, a hotel bellman who is co-founder and president of the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation. His great-grandfather was a cousin of Homer Plessy, who in 1892 challenged separate accommodations for Black and White railroad passengers.

 

 

 

Phoebe Ferguson of New Orleans, a filmmaker and co-founder of the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation. She is the great-great granddaughter of Louisiana Judge John Howard Ferguson who ruled against Homer Plessy. On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ferguson’s decision was upheld.

 

 

Moderator:

Henry L. Chambers Jr., University of Richmond School of Law professor and member of the Governor’s Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia.

 

 

Background on the legal cases:

The Supreme Court decision Dred Scott v. Sandford was issued on March 6, 1857. Delivered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, this opinion declared that slaves were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal courts. In addition, this decision declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories. The Dred Scott decision was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.

Here are resources to learn more:

https://dredscottlives.org/dred-scott/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2933.html

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2932.html

https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/dredscott.html

On May 18, 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson ruled that separate-but-equal facilities were constitutional. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision upheld the principle of racial segregation over the next half-century. The ruling provided legal justification for segregation on trains and buses, and in public facilities such as hotels, theaters, and schools. The Supreme Court overruled the Plessy decision in Brown v. the Board of Education on May 17, 1954.

Here are resources to learn more:

https://www.thirteen.org/wnet/supremecourt/antebellum/landmark_plessy.html

https://www.plessyandferguson.org/history/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/plessy-and-ferguson-descendants-of-a-divisive-supreme-court-decision-unite/2011/06/02/AGji3hJH_story.html

https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/plessy.html