Dred Scott’s descendant attends honorary dinner in Salt Lake City

Lynne Jackson speaks at This is the Place Heritage Park. Jackson has been involved in racial reconciliation efforts previously and was instrumental in getting the first-ever Dred Scott statue erected in St. Louis, Missouri. (Ethan Pack)

Lynne Jackson, Dred Scott’s great-great-granddaughter and president of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation, joined Brigham Young’s descendants for a dinner in her honor on March 1 at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.

The event was hosted by the Brigham Young Racial Reconciliation Ministry, a group committed to fostering truth, healing and reconciliation within and outside of their faith community, according to their website. The dinner was meant to honor Jackson and her efforts to honor Dred Scott, as well as to advance reconciliation efforts in Utah.

The event began with a tour of the park’s monument honoring Black pioneers, such as Jane Elizabeth Manning, Green Flake, Hark Wales and Oscar Smith. The tour was led by Mauli Bonner, a musician and filmmaker who wrote and produced the film “Green Flake.” Bonner served as the monument’s lead coordinator when it was installed in 2022.

“These men and women represent the strength of Black people in the valley and even though their stories have been whispers for so many years, I think this is going to help those stories be more common knowledge — not just to the Black community but the community at large,” Bonner said.

Jackson led efforts to erect the first-ever statue of Dred and Harriett Scott in St. Louis, Missouri in 2012. Scott, an enslaved man, sued his family’s owners for their freedom in 1846. According to the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation website, his case was struck down several times, including by the Supreme Court, but he and his family were freed in 1857, a year before he died. His case would hasten the end of slavery in the United States.

“Thank you for the visit to your monument because it was outstanding and gorgeous and beautiful, and I’m so proud that you took the steps to make that happen,” Jackson said. 

Robert Burch is the executive director of the Sema Hadithi African American Heritage and Culture Foundation, and a member of the Brigham Young Racial Reconciliation Ministry Council. As such, he has been a part of reconciliation efforts for several years and was excited Jackson could come and see the monument.

“It’s good to have someone who’s coming from so far away from Missouri and other places in the world who are beginning to understand that there is Black history in Utah,” he said.

At the dinner held afterward, speakers including Jackson, African-American leaders in Utah and descendants of Brigham Young spoke about the history of their reconciliation efforts and what is to come.

“We work to inspire hope and resilience in the face of historical and religious challenges that obscure truth and create divisions of distrust,” Burch said. “Myths, folklore, and one-sided narratives continue to perpetuate falsehood and hinder genuine reconciliation.”

Marian North, a descendant of Brigham Young, welcomed Jackson and spoke about her desire for reconciliation.

“I want to be clear that I don’t represent all of the descendants of Brigham Young … I do, however, represent a small handful of descendants of Brigham Young. I have no more qualification than a little bit of his DNA, but we have ears to hear, and hearts ready to love,” she said.

In her remarks, Jackson said she hopes reconciliation efforts between the Brigham Young family and African-Americans in Utah will continue. Having worked with several other families to do the same thing, she said she has seen the great results such efforts bring.

“I hope and pray that what they’re doing will encourage others of her family to at least explore what they’re trying to do and hopefully join them because wonderful things await you when you do good works for God and this reconciliation,” she said.

Anyone wanting to see the monument dedicated to honoring Black pioneers, titled Pioneers of 1847, can see it at This is the Place Heritage Park. More information about Dred Scott can be found at the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation website.

More than 40 people attended the Lynne Jackson honorary dinner on Friday, March 1. Lynne Jackson is Dred Scott’s great-great-granddaughter and president of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. (Ethan Pack)
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