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Panel Discussion To Focus On How Laws Have Led to Racism


A civil rights discussion on January 21 will highlight two famous U.S. Supreme Court cases that legitimized America’s practice of racism: Dred Scott (1857) and Plessy Vs. Ferguson (1892). The free event takes place at 7 p.m. at the Wilder Center on the campus of Norfolk State University and is being sponsored by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation

The event will feature descendants of plaintiffs and judges in the two cases who will discuss the U.S. legal system’s history of racial bias, offer opportunities for healing and understanding, and explain how they work together to fight racism.

Henry L. Chambers Jr. will moderate. He is a University of Richmond School of Law professor and member of the Governor’s Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law.

Panelists will include:

• Lynne M. Jackson of St. Louis, great-great granddaughter of Dred Scott, the slave born in Southampton County who sued for his freedom in 1857.

• Charles Taney IV of Greenwich, CT, great-great-great nephew of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roger Brooke Taney, who wrote the decision that denied Dred Scott his freedom.

• Keith Plessy of New Orleans. His great-grandfather was a cousin of Homer Plessy, who in 1892 challenged separate accommodations for Black and White railroad passengers.

• Phoebe Ferguson of New Orleans, great-great granddaughter of Louisiana Judge John Howard Ferguson who ruled against Homer Plessy. On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ferguson’s decision was upheld.

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This forum entitled Dred Scott Presents: Sons and Daughters of Reconciliation is part of “Understanding Hampton Roads Forum,” an ongoing community outreach effort by the community foundation in partnership with Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University and Virginians for Reconciliation.

Admission is free, but advance registration is required at (757) 622-7951 or

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