A few miles from the street where Michael Brown died last month in Ferguson, Missouri, lies the grave of Dred Scott.

Scott is the slave who went to the Supreme Court and tried, unsuccessfully, to be recognized as a free American citizen — 157 years ago.

Michael Brown is the unarmed black 18-year-old who was shot to death by a white police officer last month.

Brown's death is raising fresh questions about the extent to which blacks in suburban towns are regarded as full partners by the officials and law enforcers elected largely by and responsive to small segments of the population.

Political participation is increasing on the national level for blacks and Hispanics. On the local level, voting continues to be struggle, as it is in Ferguson.