Dred Scott’s enduring legacy
of slave says Supreme Court got it wrong on slavery, abortion
By Allen Palmeri
February 21, 2006
ST. LOUIS–Lynne Jackson gets to work with some of the best and brightest legal minds in Missouri as general services manager of Bryan Cave, the largest law firm in the state with 250 lawyers.
Seated in a 38th floor conference room overlooking the Mississippi River, the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse, Jackson is a picture of grace as she speaks about the need for solutions—both judicial and otherwise—for the problems facing her beloved African-American people group.
“I think that men need to be restored in the black community,” said Jackson, who is a member of Cross Keys Baptist Church, Florissant. “The father is the head of the house, like the priesthood. The legacy I think we need to start thinking about leaving is getting back to our faith so that we can have our families so that we can be productive people.”
Jackson is blessed with her own legacy. In fact, it is her heritage that helps give her a platform in ministry. She is the great-great granddaughter of Dred Scott, the African-American slave who was ruled to be less than a person in a controversial 1857 decision by the United States Supreme Court. Negroes, the justices ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford, were “beings of an inferior order” who were not afforded any rights under the United States Constitution.
Needless to say, Jackson, as an African-American career woman who has successfully founded her own ministry called The Prophecy and Apologetic Research and Resource Center (PARRC), has some interesting opinions as to the role that judges and lawyers play in American society. Judges and lawyers are intelligent, she said, but judges and lawyers do not possess all intelligence. Therefore, judges and lawyers should not be viewed collectively as “The Final Answer” in our lives.
Jackson was asked to analyze the statement that the United States Supreme Court down through the years has always gotten every single one of its rulings right.
“That’s a fairy tale,” she said.
She was then asked to analyze the statement that the United States Supreme Court definitely got it right in 1973 when it ruled in favor of abortion on demand in Roe v. Wade.
“That’s a lie,” she said.
Jackson is not too thrilled that 47 million babies have been slaughtered in our land since our Supreme Court justices “got it right” 33 years ago.
“I know children, when they just hear that little babies are being killed before they’re born, who say, ‘That’s not right. Did you want to kill me?’” Jackson said. “The sensibilities and just the pure innocence of children alone know that this is wrong.
“Have you ever seen a baby aborted in the womb? Well, I have. You see this beautiful form of a darling baby just floating around, doing well, and then you see the introduction of these pincers that go in and the baby starts to flinch and move back and forth, as if to get away from this thing that’s poking and prodding at them. Then it becomes pretty violent.
“After that, you begin to see the baby’s form become less specific. It begins to degrade. Eventually, you really can’t see the arms and legs anymore, of course, because it’s being pulled apart in that particular procedure. So now you’re just looking at stuff floating, where a minute ago you were looking at a baby. And it IS a baby, and life DOES begin at conception.”
From the offices of Bryan Cave, she can see the Old Courthouse, which stands near the area where her ancestor tried to win his freedom in St. Louis Federal Court. After an 11-year legal drama that was played out in five separate trials, justice was denied although America eventually got it right after the Civil War and the passage of both the 13 th and 14 th amendments to the Constitution.
The 150 th anniversary of the decision will be commemorated March 6, 2007. As the designated heir to the family heritage, Jackson has reported for duty as spokeswoman and coordinator of the festivities.
“We hope to have a postage stamp, and we’re working on an oral history of the family,” said Jackson, who is in the midst of helping to form a civic committee and family heritage foundation that could wind up commissioning a life-sized statue of Dred Scott. “I’m hoping that this will put the spotlight on what was and what can be. Racial reconciliation needs to come from this place (the Old Courthouse). There are some people who think that the decision needs to be reversed, and there are people who also feel like we’re having the difficulties here (in St. Louis), in particular, because this emanated from across the street.
“It’s a Scriptural issue as well. The human race is of one blood. You can’t pick off a couple of races here and there and decide that they’re not.”
Jackson considers her great-great grandfather to be a type of Joseph (Genesis 39-50) in that he endured suffering and emerged victorious.
“Joseph said, ‘This is what’s right and this is what I’m going to do,’” Jackson said. “He didn’t lie. He took the punishment.”
When her pastor, Jim Savage, considers all that Jackson has accomplished and all that she will do in the months leading up to the 150 th anniversary commemoration, he marvels at her elegance, dedication and buoyant spirit.
“She’s a terrific lady who has a real passion for the Lord and for racial reconciliation,” Savage said.
Harold Hendrick, a member of First Baptist Church of Ferguson and a prominent Christian radio personality in St. Louis, serves with Jackson on the Mission Metro St. Louis board and echoes Savage’s assessment of her character.
“Lynne is very gracious, warm, poised and articulate, with a deep love for Jesus,” Hendrick said.
Jackson gives a lot of the credit for her character to her husband of 31 years, Brian, whom she describes as “a thinker.” He tends to be the scientific mind of the family as well as the resident philosopher.
“He has been behind the scenes, but he should not remain behind the scenes,” Lynne Jackson said. “He has the gift of oration. He can speak beautifully.”
Together they hope to impact the world for Christ through PARRC, a ministry that is “completely dedicated to declaring Christianity as the most theologically sound, philosophically justified, scientifically verified and most easily perceived, accepted and understood of all beliefs.” Spiritual symposiums connected to the 150 th anniversary commemoration are part of their master plan.
“I think the lesson of Lynne’s story is that our struggles of today can benefit those who come behind us, even generations later,” Hendrick said.