The modern-day families of Dred Scott and Roger Brooke Taney were brought together by a work of art.
In May, 2016, the renowned Actors Studio in New York City produced the premier of A Man of His Time, a one act play centered on an emotional meeting of the descendants of Scott and Taney set in today’s time. The playwright is Kate Taney Billingsley, an actor and member of the Actors Studio. The Actors Studio invited Lynne Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of Dred Scott and Charlie Taney, the great-great-great nephew of Roger Brooke Taney to come to New York to participate in a talk-back session with the audience after the play. Jackson lives in Missouri, Taney in Connecticut.
After meeting in New York, Lynne Jackson and Charlie Taney formed a working relationship. Jackson says; “Only Divine Providence could have set up the Scott and Taney descendant’s first meeting around an amazing play written by a Taney about Scott and Taney descendants meeting for the first time! I had hoped to meet and draw them out over time to build a relationship through the Foundation’s work and they actually contacted me. It was a highlight for me personally and for the Foundation’s 10th anniversary.”
Jackson is the founder and president of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation in St. Louis and needed help with a strategic plan. Taney consults with non-profits and offered to work pro bono with Jackson on this project. After successfully completing the strategic plan, Jackson invited Taney to Dred Scott Presents Sons & Daughters of Reconciliation, a December 2016 conference in St. Louis hosted by the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. At this event the Taney and Scott families participated in a public reconciliation. Taney recognized the harm caused to African Americans by the infamous Dred Scott decision authored by Roger Brooke Taney, and formally apologized for the Taney family to the Scott family. In turn, the Scott family formally forgave the Taney family. The result is a new foundation of trust, and a commitment to work together on the reconciliation of black and white America. Charlie Taney says, “Working with Lynne Jackson and the Scott family on reconciliation has been an important and deeply moving experience. “
Another work of art, the statue of Roger Brooke Taney in Annapolis, is bringing the Scott’s and Taney’s together again. On March 6, 2017, the 160th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision, they will be at the Taney statue in front of the Maryland State House. They are coming together on March 6th for two reasons. First, to reconfirm the reconciliation of the Scott’s and Taney’s, with accompanying apology and forgiveness. Second, to speak against the removal of the Taney statue. Instead, they see an opportunity for reconciliation via the erection of a statue of Dred Scott to stand side-by-side with Roger Brooke Taney, along with an educational display on the Dred Scott decision and its aftermath. And, they will help raise the funds for the Dred Scott statue. The Scott’s and Taney’s believe that Americans should learn from their history, not bury their history.
On the morning of March 6th, a reading of A Man of His Time will be performed.
As President Obama said in his remarks at Reverend Pickney’s funeral after the 2015 Charleston massacre; “Justice grows out of our recognition of each other”.