Great Scott—Civil Rights and Activists
March 13, 2017
Dred Scott was a slave and #social_activist who served several masters before suing for his own freedom. His case made it all the way to the Supreme Court (Dred Scott v. Sandford) prior to the American Civil War, in a time when segregation was standard practice in most states.
Mr. Scott was born into slavery sometime in 1795, in Southampton County, Virginia. He made history by launching a legal battle to gain his freedom from slave owners. After his first owner died, Scott spent time in two free states working for several subsequent owners. Shortly after, he married and tried to buy freedom for himself and his family but failed. He took his case to the Missouri courts, where he won only to have the decision overturned at the Supreme Court level. This event was so controversial it was an harbinger for Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and inevitably of the Civil War. Scott died in 1858.
Scott was an activist before real revolution happened. He had the courage and the understanding that led to a government upheaval in which he had no idea would happen as a result of his efforts. Imagine—the Supreme Court hearing your case as a black man in those days! This was the beginning of a revolt for (and against) human rights that still remains some 220 years later.
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Continued from Above:
“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”
As someone who has poked his head in and out of activism, I have always support the good fight of activism, but in ways other than protest. For some reason I have trouble with crowds and tension. However, do I agree when people stand up for the rights of the downtrodden? Absolutely.
I would not be getting married had it not been for boisterous, litigious activists who have stood in the gap between my rights and Right-Winged Christians, who had in the past, tried with every measure of might to keep down blacks, women, gays and civil rights.
I’m not sure what Christianity at its core has against civil rights. Jesus was a lover of all man and womankind. Yet, as the church and its money began to swing votes for lawmakers around the time of Ronald Reagan, the Republican side of the ticket picked up the staunch Christians, and the Democrats picked up the more liberal Christians who believed more in the spirit of the scriptures than the actual laws of the Old Testament. In the days of these revolts, I would say that most people were generally followers, than leaders. It takes great pressure in society among a particular group of people that has had its rights stripped away for leaders to assemble and drive this same group toward activism, protests, and ultimately change.
We see this happening with the Democrats now, as we feel as if all of our civil rights are being chipped away at the hands of Republican lawmakers. The difference in the Democrats fights and the Republicans fight is that the Democrats tend to fight for the good of all the downtrodden. They fight when our brown brothers and sisters having a different religious point of view than ours is singled out and judged. We fight when we see injustice.
It appears that Republicans fight to keep their money, stop taxing the rich, and when they are required to help any program that is not funding their own self-righteous need to control the country with their own personal Christian beliefs.
Civil rights is on everyone’s mind these days, as the days of our privacy are just about gone—when we are not even sure if our Samsung television is filming us making out with our husbands on the couch while the television is off. Who knows who’s telephone is being monitored and what e-mail will be intercepted from someone because his or her computer autocorrected “terror” for “terrorist.”
Scott vs. Sanford was the beginning of many Supreme Court battles waged in the name of women’s rights, African American rights, gay rights, and many other factions of society suffering from an attack on their civil liberties.
Today, I simply want to say thank you to all of those men and women who have walked ahead of me, risked their lives, and sometimes had given their lives for my personal freedoms.
I don’t spend a day without recognizing how fortunate I am to be standing in a day where I don’t ever have to hide who I am. I am proud to be a gay, spiritual man who grew up in the arts, dancing in the ballet, and singing countertenor in choirs during college. I have crossed the barriers of stereotype and walked in the cages with right-winged lions seeking to have me for dinner. I know the terror of having unequal rights and the freedom of gaining power. This contrasted distinction makes me very proud to be an American.
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