They say justice is relative. If that’s so, it pays to remember the case of Celia, the Missouri slave who killed her master during an attempted rape. Given the customs of the day, Celia was fortunate to have judicial process, even if justice eluded her. Judicial process, rather than justice, is all we can expect today.
Elizabeth Freeman is the name Mum Bett gave herself when she gained her freedom from slavery. What lessons about liberty can be drawn from her story in 2017? Among many others, freedom is a continuum.
Courts don’t always deliver justice, but they often deliver hope. What else could have persuaded enslaved persons to sue for freedom when they weren’t even allowed to testify? An archive of 19th century federal cases is worth the read.