Dred Scott Descendant on Barack Obama's Inaugural

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My name is Lynne, and I am one of your descendants that still lives in St. Louis. From March 2007 to March 2008, we commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision. You don't know this, but it became one of the most famous cases in our history. It was a catalyst that changed the course of this nation forever. (Article continued below...)

One hundred and fifty-two years later, the legacy of your and Great-Great Grandmother Harriet's courageous 11-year court battle is known the world over. The two of you were truly civil-rights pioneers. You died before the Civil War (yes, a terrible war was fought over slavery),but Abraham Lincoln (you heard about the debates) became president and decreed an emancipation for all slaves. It cost him his life. People from all over the world put the Lincoln penny on your tombstone and every day it is covered with them. You would be so proud of those who struggled like you and sacrificed, some even unto death for the right to live and to be free. I want you and Grandmother Harriet to know we have all stayed close as a family, and, yes, we are free.

Grandfather Dred, something unbelievable has happened, and it seemed to have happened overnight. Only four years ago, no one would have taken this too seriously. In just a few days, America will swear in its first African-American president. It was a watershed moment at which the whole world marveled the night he won the election. It was an euphoric moment for so very many because of its implications. For that reason alone, it was as high a moment in history as your fateful decision was a low moment. Now, I don't want you to get the wrong impression. As with any election, not everyone is happy. Some have ideological differences but are hoping to work with him on them; others just wanted a black person to be in office; and some don't want that at all. Either way, if you were awake the night he won, you saw emotions running high, mostly over the historic turn this country took that night. For a few minutes in time, the world watched and was riveted in this new reality.

These are perilous times, and he will be facing among the greatest challenges any president has ever faced. Our nation was founded as one nation under God, with liberty and just for all. It hasn't always worked out that way, but things are changing. Life, family, education and faith are still the things people care about. Our new president will have many opportunities to secure these values for our country. I pray God will guide him.

Your contribution to this moment did not go unnoticed. When he spoke in St. Louis before the election, the Old Court House was in the background as he stood on the riverfront (right where the Old Papin Building, where your second trial was held, used to be). It was near all the places you lived and worked. Few who saw the photo could help but comment on your place in history, which gave way to his place in history. We are working to build a statue for you there because none exists yet, anywhere—but we hope to change that very soon. Perhaps this may help pave the road to reconciliation.

Oh, and by the way, did I tell you? His name is President Barack Obama. His father is from Kenya. I though you might like to know that.

With pride, gratitude and enduring love,

Your great-great granddaughter,
Lynne Madison Jackson

Dred Scott Descendant on Barack Obama's Inaugural | U.S.