The Ramsey County Historical Society hosts forums on the life of freed slave Harriet Scott and Scottie Primus, the first black woman to graduate from the U

Scottie Primus Davis grew up in the historically Black Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul, attended the University of Minnesota, became a no-nonsense English teacher, and later earned his master’s degree at Harvard University. What made her educational journey different from that of other high school brass was that in 1904 she was the first black woman to graduate from the U, quietly opening a door that others would follow 50 years before the US Supreme Court orders segregation of public schools to be unconstitutional.

Scottie Primus Davis grew up in the historically Black Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul, attended the University of Minnesota, became a no-nonsense English teacher, and later earned his master’s degree at Harvard University. What differentiated her educational journey from that of other high school brass was that she was the first black woman to graduate from the U, quietly opening a door that many others would follow. (Courtesy of University of Minnesota Archives and St. Paul’s Almanac)

Steve Trimble, a former state legislator who has written several books on St. Paul’s history, wondered what else he could glean about Davis, but his early college investigations failed. . His months-long research into the life of a little-known St. Paul pioneer produced one of the feature articles in the new winter edition of Ramsey County History Magazine, which is dedicated to Davis and to other black pioneers for Black History Month.

On February 17, Trimble will participate in a live Zoom panel discussion focusing on the life of Davis and moderated by magazine editor Meredith Cummings.

They will be joined by educational consultant Mary K. Boyd and former NAACP advocate Chester C. Owens Jr., who had Davis as an English teacher before running his own business and serving on the Kansas City City Council, Kan. , where he also served as deputy mayor. The free event will be held in partnership with the East Side Freedom Library and the Roseville Library.

On February 10, the Ramsey County Historical Society will host a Zoom Live chat with Jane Henderson, a researcher who focuses on black slavery in the north. She will deliver remarks on the life of Harriet Scott, a slave who was purchased by a military doctor while stationed at Fort Snelling.

Old Courthouse: A May 2016 photo of a statue of slaves Dred and Harriett Scott located outside the Old Courthouse in St. Louis. Unveiled on June 8, 2012, the life-size bronze statue of St. Louis sculpture Harry Weber shows the couple united as they were in their quest for freedom. (Courtesy of Kathy Henderson)

The area – then part of Wisconsin Territories – was considered “free” territory, but Southerners still brought slaves with them and some, like Harriet and her husband Dred Scott, were bought, sold and rented out. Keeping tabs on legal differences, Dred Scott attempted to win the family’s freedom through the courts of St. Louis.

The confusion surrounding the infamous “Dred Scott decision” of the United States Supreme Court would later fuel a national banking crisis and set the backdrop for the Civil War.

To register for either roundtable, visit the Ramsey County Historical Society online at RCHS.com.

Harry L. Blanchard