By Dana Riek, Guest Reviewer
On March 6, 1857, the decision that Judge Taney made on the Dred Scott Case dehumanized the black community and brought even more division and segregation than before! We are approaching 160 years since this horrible incident took place. It is evident that we need more healing from wounds of racial divide in St. Louis and throughout the US! What would happen if more believers in Jesus would come together in unity to break down strongholds of racism and take action? It starts in the Church! What would happen if we truly took it to heart? What would happen if descendants of those who were involved in the Dred Scott Case reconciled and came together? It was an honor to be a part of such a beautiful event where that took place! The 10th Anniversary Celebration for the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation was powerful! Not only was there such historical significance, but spiritual significance in what took place at the Frontenac Hilton Hotel that day!
Lynne Jackson, great-great granddaughter of Dred Scott is the founder of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation and she worked hard with others to organize this event and it paid off. She understands the importance of forgiveness, reconciliation, and unity! As her great-great grandfather was an advocate for justice and equal rights, Lynne is carrying on his legacy in a way that brings healing. God made a way to bring descendants together of historical figures who were connected to the Dred Scott Case! Jackson’s cousins, Dred Madison and Barbara McGregory joined her along with John and Ashton LeBourgeois, descendants of the Blow family; Charlie Taney, great-great-nephew of Judge Taney; Bertram Hayes Davis, a descendant of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis; and Shannon Lanier, sixth-great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings!
Charlie Taney is an example of one who took action by apologizing on Justice Roger Taney’s behalf for what has been done because of the Dred Scott decision! Charlie’s family contacted Lynne Jackson not knowing that she was trying to find Taney descendants to connect with for years. After meeting in New York this past April, Charlie has become active with the Foundation as an act of reconciliation in several ways to make a difference! Ashton and John LeBourgeois shared how Peter Blow owned Dred Scott and treated him with dignity. Peter Blow’s sons helped Dred pursue the long legal battles and sometimes helped pay or secure legal fees. Later, after losing the US Supreme Court Decision, they also “purchased” Dred & his family with the sole purpose to let them go and set them free! Bertram Hayes-Davis brought awareness to the fact that though Jefferson Davis was a slave owner, he was one who treated them well and set up a way for them to get an education! He did not agree with the way black people were being treated! Bertram expressed how his great-great grandfather stood up for slaves in different ways, but could have done more! Shannon Lanier shared about his heritage (Jefferson’s intent for the Declaration of Independence) and his intention to be a positive influence in our society! He is co-author of the Random House book “Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family.” Lanier, along with photo-journalist Jane Feldman, wrote the book to reveal mysteries behind the controversial Jefferson lineage through Sallie Heming (his slave) and to give members of this family a chance to be heard! He is also a successful entrepreneur, an actor & producer!
Brenda Young is on the Board for the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation and gave such a beautiful message on the difference the kingdom of God is to make during racial tensions! We are to bring hope and are not to hold onto bitterness on either side!
We all need to work together to love one another through Christ in word and in deed! Pastor Jonathan Thomas is gifted with expressing truth and a passion for justice! He shared his heart and gave a spoken word for the body of Christ to rise up and make a difference in our nation! We must overcome division and the spirit of hate! Pastor Sylvester Turner also gave a strong and powerful message to rise up above the tensions and strive for unity through Christ! We are to be open to dialogue and help bring healing to wounds that have been exposed throughout history! To top it all off, Cheryl Dozier, Executive Director of Missouri Legislative Black Caucus, presented a well-deserved award to Lynne Jackson for The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation on behalf of the Missouri House of Representatives! It was beautiful! She drove quite a distance to attend & present the award! This was a memorable day on many different levels and is definitely recorded in Heaven!