book banner

Mary talks at the Library of Congress

Let's talk about humbling experiences, because by all indications, Dred Scott was a humble man. He struggled to protect his family from the predations of slavery, and he did that quietly, respectfully—doggedly—seeking justice through one of the bulwarks of slavery itself: the judicial system.

One hundred fifty years after the US Supreme Court declared Dred Scott a piece of property with no rights a white man was bound to honor, I entered the Library of Congress to talk about my research and my book about Dred Scott. On March 6, 2007, with the humility I imagine Dred Scott may have felt walking into the Old Courthouse in St. Louis to mark his X on the petition that would begin his suit, I entered this great center of culture and learning. I felt honored to be among the many the Center for the Book has honored over the decades.

I spoke about what I had learned about this remarkable man and his times, and I spoke about how my research shaped the character of Dred Scott I would write about. It's a long presentation, too long for many I suspect, so here is an index of sorts to help you find the parts you're most interested in:


Dr. John Cole, Director of the Center for the Book, introduces me

I thank those who influenced and helped me

Explanation of the Sankofa symbol

Dred Scott and other US Supreme Court major cases; how courts are about protection of individual rights; Dred's anonymity

How I became hooked on Dred Scott's story

Where I found information; known facts from his birth until 1846

The case begins: what motivated the Scotts to seek freedom through the courts?

Who was Dred Scott? Part I: quotes from him

I read from Speak Right On, regarding books and stories

Who was Dred Scott? Part II: what we can learn from the case

The surprising aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling

I read from Speak Right On, regarding the ongoing significance of the Dred Scott story

I introduce Henry E. Autry, US District Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri

Judge Autry speaks about his personal and professional views of the case and of Dred Scott

Judge Autry reads from Speak Right On, regarding the Scotts hearing the news about the Supreme Court's decision

John Cole introduces Jerry McCoy, founder of the Silverspring, Maryland, Historical Society

Jerry McCoy reads comments prepared by Richard Hollyday, descendant of Montgomery Blair

Lynne Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of Dred and Harriet Scott, speaks via video

John Cole's concluding remarks

Learn More: Links & Resources
Why does Dred Scott remain relevant today?


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Monday, 19 April 2021