The descendants of Dred Scott and Roger Brooke Taney were brought together by a work of art. In May 2016, the renowned Actors Studio in New York City produced the premiere of A Man of His Time, a one-act play centered on an emotional meeting of the descendants of Scott and Taney set in today’s time. The playwright is Kate Taney Billingsley, an actor and member of the Actors Studio. The Actors Studio invited Lynne Jackson, the great-great-granddaughter of Dred Scott and Charlie Taney, the great-great-great nephew of Roger Brooke Taney to come to New York to participate in a talk-back session with the audience after the play. Jackson lives in Missouri, Taney in Connecticut.
After meeting in New York, Lynne Jackson and Charlie Taney formed a working relationship. Jackson says; “Only Divine Providence could have set up the Scott and Taney descendants’ first meeting around an amazing play written by a Taney about Scott and Taney descendants meeting for the first time! I had hoped to meet and draw them out over time to build a relationship through the Foundation’s work and they actually contacted me. It was a highlight for me personally and for the Foundation’s 10th anniversary.”
Jackson is the founder and president of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation in St. Louis and was working on a strategic plan for her foundation. Taney consults with non-profits and offered to work pro bono with Jackson on this project. After successfully completing the strategic plan, Jackson invited Taney to Dred Scott Presents Sons & Daughters of Reconciliation, a December 2016 conference in St. Louis hosted by the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. At this event, the Taney and Scott families participated in a public reconciliation. Taney recognized the harm caused to African Americans by the infamous Dred Scott decision authored by Roger Brooke Taney, and formally apologized for the Taney family to the Scott family. In turn, the Scott family formally forgave the Taney family. The result is a new foundation of trust, and a commitment to work together on the reconciliation of black and white America. Charlie Taney says, “Working with Lynne Jackson and the Scott family on reconciliation has been an important and deeply moving experience. “
On the morning of March 6th at 10 AM, a reading of “A Man of His Time” written by Kate T. Billingsley will be performed at The Prayer Breakfast Calvary United Methodist Church ~ 301 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD 21401. A Postreading conversation will follow with Charles Taney IV and LynnJackson. For additional information ( See https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/arts/a-fictional-apology-to-dred-scott-born-of-a-real-familys-painful-legacy.html?_r=0)
As President Obama said in his remarks at Reverend Clementa Pickney’s funeral after the 2015 Charleston massacre, “Justice grows out of our recognition of each other.” This public reconciliation between these two families yoked together by history, is a further attempt at achieving justice through mutual recognition and reconciliation.
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