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St. Louis Monument Honors Black Americans Who Sued For Their Freedom

The great-great-granddaughter of Dred Scott was in attendance.

On Juneteenth in St. Louis, Missouri, the Freedom Suits Memorial was unveiled outside of the Civil Courts Building.

The monument was erected in honor of Black people who sued for their freedom during slavery. The 14-foot bronze statue was created by sculptor Preston Jackson and includes the names of enslaved people.  The Freedom Suits has a connection to Dredd Scott, who although taking his case before the U.S. Supreme Court was ultimately unsuccessful in suing for his freedom after the enslaver who held Scott died.

An 1800s Missouri law stated if a person was once free, they were always free. Dred Scott argued that he and his family should be freed from the condition of chattel slavery because they had once lived in a free state.  However, in 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, that all people of African descent — whether they were slaves or free — could never become citizens of the United States and therefore could not sue in federal court.

RELATED: 20 Iconic Milestones in the Fight for Civil Rights 

Lynne Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of Dred Scott, said at the unveiling of the monument, “Think about the sacrifices and the difficulties and think about how you can be a better person and carry this story forward with us.”

The monument is depicted here:

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