2014 "Open Doors" Program - Dred and Harriet Scott

On Friday, May 16, 2014, the Court hosted the culminating event of this year's "Open Doors to Federal Courts" program, which focused on the lives of Dred and Harriet Scott and their role in shaping the nation's history. The program was a collaborative effort by the Court, Minneapolis Public Schools, volunteer attorneys from various bar associations, and Mixed Blood Theatre. The event—held at William Mitchell College of Law and attended by approximately 250 high school students from Minneapolis Public Schools—was a great success!

The day began with a welcome by Chief Judge Davis and greetings from Eric S. Janus, President and Dean of William Mitchell College of Law. Students then watched a play about Dred and Harriet Scott performed by members of Mixed Blood Theatre. After this, the students met Lynne Jackson—great–great–granddaughter of Dred and Harriet Scott and founder of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation—who gave an informative and engaging presentation about the lives of her ancestors. The event concluded with a presentation by a diverse panel of judges and attorneys, including Justice Wilhelmina M. Wright of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Judge Kevin G. Ross of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Judge Lyonel Norris of the Hennepin County District Court, Judge Edward Wilson of the Ramsey County District Court, and attorneys Lariss Jude and Ben Kwan. The panelists shared personal stories of triumph over various obstacles in their lives.

Prior to the May 16th event, Open Doors program volunteer attorneys from various organizations visited students in their U.S. History and Government classes and spoke to them about the Dred Scott decision and about their own life experiences. The Court would like to thank all who participated in the program, including our guests; our speakers and panelists; members of the planning committee; and members of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, the Hispanic Bar Association, the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and the Urban Debate Program.

To view two photos from the event, please click on the links:

    Photo 1: The Mixed Blood Theatre actors portraying Dred and Harriet Scott; Judge Kevin G. Ross and Chief Judge Michael J. Davis.

    Photo 2: (L to R) MN Court of Appeals Judge Kevin G. Ross, MN Supreme Court Associate Justice Wilhelmina M. Wright; Attorney Lariss Jude; Hennepin County District Court Judge Lyonel Norris.