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Published on Oct 24, 2009
U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taneys infamous declaration in the 1857 Dred Scott decision that an African American had no rights that the white man was bound to respect is widely regarded as one of the causes of the American Civil War. However, few remember that Justice Taneys language was largely borrowed from an earlier decision of the Georgia Supreme Court. Over 150 years later, this same Georgia Supreme Court decision inspired Ariela Gross to undertake an investigation into the role that the courts have played in the development of the American conception the idea of race. The result of this investigation is Professor Grosss recent book, What Blood Wont Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America. This important new work was recently recognized with a Lillian Smith Book Award for 2009. Dr. Gross and Professor Mary A. Twining discuss lessons from the book in this video which was taken at the 2009 Award Ceremony.