"The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice..." -MLK Jr.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

A friend just sent me this amazing photo -- and the accompanying text, which I believe comes from Elizabeth Kaeton, and her blog Telling Secrets.


The picture depicted in the link is from the recent Obama rally in St. Louis. The eye is first drawn to the sheer number of people. Impressive, no doubt. But that's not the point of this picture to a historian.

If you look in the distance there, you can see a building with a greenish-copper dome. That's the Old St. Louis Courthouse. For years and years, slaves were auctioned on the steps of that courthouse.

The Old Courthouse used to be called the St. Louis State and Federal Courthouse.

Back in 1850, two escaped slaves named Dred and Harriett Scott had their petition for freedom overturned in a case there. Montgomery Blair took the case to the US Supreme Court on Scott's behalf and had Chief Justice Roger Taney throw it out because, as he wrote, the Scotts were 'beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.'

Hard to imagine, isn't it?

What is rather uplifting is that, 158 years later, the man who will most likely be the first black US President was able to stand outside this very same courthouse and gather that crowd. Today, America looked back on one of the darkest moments in its history, and resoundingly told Judge Taney to go to hell.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    Update on Oregon voting as of Tues AM- Total ballots returned 66% Dems at 73% returned Rs at 68% returned http://www.loadedorygun.net/showDiary.do?diaryId=1462

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    The Boss and Barack with 200 thousand in Cleveland: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfKF5i_h3eQ

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    Kari, I was in St. Louis last year and I went on the tour of the old courthouse. They had balls and chains, pictures of familiees being sold, signed ownership papers on human beings. I don't feel I am exageratting to say you could feel the weight of souls in that building.

    That picture is amazing. Great, I'm going to cry again.

  • George Seldes (unverified)

    I always heard the quote as "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

    The oracle (google) seems to agree; e.g., http://is.gd/6ltB

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    The quote in my mind today is...from MLK, Jr.

    "However difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth pressed to the earth will rise again."

  • MCT (unverified)

    What a breathtaking moment in histoy. It's been a long time since Americans have been so hopefully united in a common cause....the greater good. We became unified against the Vietnam War, but the cause itself was bitter. The rise of nationalism after 9/11 was shock-driven, tainted and sorrowful. But THIS is something to really celebrate. We've dreamed big and set the bar high under the most challenging of circumstances, in light of the damage we've suffered as a nation. Yet today I feel energized and exhausted at the same time, at the thought of a new road to travel.

  • LynnB (unverified)

    Karol and Kari I cried, too when I saw the picture. From the intro to Superman in the 60's (I think) he fights for the American way--with truth and justice for all

  • Simon Baddeley (unverified)

    Dear America. You've come back to us - to Europe and the world. My heart is full. Look after this man. Simon

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