I’ve seen the name written several different ways, including Dread Scott Tyler. What is correct?
When was Dread Scott born?
Is Dread Scott your real name?
My name is as real as Bob Dylan, David Bowie or Chuck D. It is my professional name.
Are you related to the historic figure Dred Scott?
Why did you take the name Dread Scott?
When I took the name there were 4 basic reasons for it:
- A key reason was the Dred Scott case where Scott, a slave, sued for his freedom and the case resulted in a landmark Supreme Court decision. While there have been major changes in America since that 1857 Supreme Court case, the racism and exploitation that led to the ruling which included words to the effect “there are no rights that a black person has that a white man is bound to respect” hasn’t changed much. The form of racism has changed but the basic position of Black people in this society and the rationale for it have remained constant. I wanted people to have a reminder of this.
- I liked the concept of “dread,” as in fear.
- While I am an atheist and not into Rastafarianism, Rastas have this image of oppressed people fighting for justice that I like.
- I had dreadlocks at the time and the other people I knew who had dreadlocks became known as Steve Dread or Jimmy Dread. My given first name was Scott so I figured “Dread Scott”
What was the name of the Supreme Court Case Dread Scott (the artist) was part of?
I was part of “US v. Eichman et al” 496 U.S. 310 (1990). This case arose when I and others (Joey Johnson—defendant in the 1988 Supreme Court flag burning case, Dave Blalock and Sean Eichman) burned flags on the steps of the US capitol in protest of the just enacted “Flag protection act of 1989.” This law was an attempt to make patriotism compulsory. It would have outlawed criticism of the flag, which is one step from outlawing criticism of the government. The legislation contained specific wording that was added in response to, and which would outlaw, my artwork “What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?”
Where can I find more information about “What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?
The best place to start is right here on this website.
The page has a good description of the work and the bottom of the page has links to some media coverage as well as some off-line citations.
I think that the people who protested against “What is the Proper Way Display a US Flag?” misunderstood the art. The work is really about the First Amendment and the US freedom they fought for? Is this how you see the work?
My response to both my detractors and supporters is that this is a world where a tiny handful controls the great wealth and knowledge that humanity as a whole has created. America was forged by genocide and slavery and carries out profound exploitation and oppressions of whole peoples and vast regions of the planet to maintain this lopsided relationship. It doesn’t have to be this way and I personally look forward to the day when America and its flag are in the dustbin of history and people are striving to build a world of freely associating human beings, free of exploitation. In this spirit I created a conceptual artwork where people could engage the question of what US patriotism and the US flag represents. But I have structured the work so that the viewpoint of the millions around the world, including in this country, who hate America and yearn for the world to be different is not excluded from the debate. Both the placement of the flag and the images of South Korean students burning the US flag while holding sings that read “Yankee Go Home Son of Bitch” enables this view to enter the work. People are free to encounter the art and engage with it in a range of ways. One way is that they can add their thoughts to the response book that is part of the work. I encourage people to stand on old glory as they enter into the debate.
Your work has been at the center of controversy, lawsuits and arrest. What are some of these works? What is the Proper Way to Display a US Flag?, The Blue Wall of Violence, El Grito, Money to Burn, I Am Not a Man, A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday and others have all faced some form of censorship or government harassment.