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.