As a child, I was always fascinated by Black History Month. Its lessons taught me that the accomplishments of Black people were vast and wondrous and that I, as a descendant of those people, could accomplish anything I set out to do.
One story in particular still amazes me. It is the story of Dred Scott, an enslaved man who was taken from a slave state to a free territory by those who enslaved him. Scott eventually sued to gain freedom for himself and his family.
During a prolonged court battle, Scott was assisted by abolitionists and others. While the law seemed to favor Scott’s argument that he could not be returned to slavery once he was transported to a free territory, the court ruled against him in a 7-2 decision. The majority opinion was penned by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote that Black people were “of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
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