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Special Program

Humankind: Justice Denied

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This one-hour Humankind special examines the fascinating historical role played by U.S. federal courts in enforcing slavery. We revisit how a Boston judge's decision to order a runaway slave returned to his Virginia owner provoked the largest abolitionist protest the nation had ever seen. Then an in-depth look at the Supreme Court's famous Dred Scott ruling -- adamantly opposed by Abraham Lincoln -- that blacks "have no rights a white man is bound to respect". To what extent did these and other cases inflame tensions leading to the Civil War and damage the reputation of the federal judiciary? Featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning Lincoln historian Eric Foner, Museum of African-American History director Beverly Morgan-Welch, and Duke University law professor Paul Finkelman, as well as dramatic readings from Frederick Douglass and others.

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