After 232 years and 115 prior appointments, President Joe Biden stuck to his campaign promise and identified the right woman for the top job. He promised to appoint a Black woman to the US Supreme Court at his first opportunity. When Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement on the Bench earlier this year, President Biden sprang into action with his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the US Court of Appeals judge with a stellar track record of judicial balance and even-handedness.
And despite a contentious Senate hearing process, Jackson was confirmed on April 8, 2022 by a Senate vote of 53-47, with three Republicans voting for Justice Jackson (Mitt Romney-Utah, Susan Collins-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski-Alaska). Vice President Kamala Harris read the results as the Senate Chamber burst into thunderous applause. A historic Supreme Court confirmation of a Black woman from Florida was announced by the first Black woman Vice President of the United States.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will serve a lifetime term in the Court and will start her service as soon as Justice Breyer retires, most likely sometime in June.
With such an outstanding series of events, here is why every Black woman can relate to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson:
1 She's Grounded.
Justice Jackson will have served as a sitting Judge longer than most of the other Justices. She's been a sitting judge for nearly ten years, with no trouble in getting confirmed for her other federal appointments. She also sets the record for having served as a public defender, and she clerked for Justice Breyer early in her career. She knows the law and has been praised for her ability to look at issues from both sides of the spectrum.
Black women know that often we have to be twice or three times as prepared to qualify to get the job.
2 She's Well Educated
Her mother was an educator, and her father was a lawyer. She graduated at the top of her class at Miami Palmetto Senior High School and was admitted to Harvard University in spite of a non-visionary guidance counselor advising her to lower her educational expectations.
Black women are used to being "dumbed down" by guidance counselors who don't see their brilliance. Not the first time, nor the last, that a counselor gave bad advice to a top Black student.
Justice Jackson would graduate from Harvard College (1992) and Harvard Law School (1996) with flying colors.
I wonder how many other students of color suffered through the low expectations of a high school guidance counselor. Too many…far too many.
3 She's Unmoved By Political Hacks Like Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn
I had MUCH to say after reacting to the ridiculous and racially motivated Senate hearing questions by Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn. Some of my words can't be put in print because of the vile contempt I have for Cruz and Blackburn. Lindsey Graham and Josh Hawley round out the quartet of Trump sycophants who have sold their souls to the devil. While I wanted to throw my television down a flight of steps because of the questioning of Justice Jackson's judicial record, she remained unmoved.
When Senator Blackburn asked Brown-Jackson to "define a woman," Justice Jackson looked mildly puzzled and artfully skipped over the trap that lay before her. Blackburn, in later comments, referred to Jackson in terms of being the recipient of "dark money Leftist groups" and "pushing the agenda of woke education" as she explained why she felt Justice Jackson was unqualified for the job.
That's when I wanted to throw my television down the steps in protest of this right-wing racist woman who can't imagine a dark-skinned Black woman serving on the Supreme Court.
I reacted in front of my television set. Justice Jackson, who had prepared for the brutality of the Republican Senators, remained unmoved. She was rewarded when Romney, Collins, and Murkowski joined the Democrats to vote for this brilliant woman of action.
Black women understand the resilience and emotional constraint it took for Justice Jackson to remain unmoved when the Senate attacks mounted.
4 She's Visionary
Three of her Harvard roommates and good friends were interviewed on national television about their college and law school days with Justice Jackson. Attorney Antoinette Coakley, who is one of my friends and church members here in Boston said, "It was very clear from the first time that we met her that it was special. I remember telling her when we were in the dorm, 'You are going to be the first black woman on the US Supreme Court.'"
Justice Jackson was a brilliant debater in high school. While Fox News' Tucker Carlson was asking about Justice Jackson's LSAT scores (law school entrance test scores), her high school classmate, Stephen Rosenthal, told news reporters about the numerous medals she won from the debate team victories.
Justice Jackson knew from an early age that law was her profession and nothing deterred her from fulfilling her dream of success. She was supported by loving parents and guided by trusted hands throughout her college and law school courses. Her vision translated to the historic confirmation despite senators who wanted to squash her dreams.
Black women know that vision often turns into reality when you believe in yourself.
5 She's All In
The vitriol spewed out by small-minded politicians was washed away by the triumphant speech by Senator Cory Booker. He elevated the moment to its rightful, historic place when he showered Justice Jackson with praise and adoration. On March 25th, he said the following:
"I'm telling you right now, I'm not letting anybody in the Senate steal my joy! I am embarrassed... I'm just looking at you, and I'm starting to get full of emotion. You didn't get here because of some left-wing agenda. You didn't get here because of some dark money groups. You got here how every Black woman in America (who) has gotten anywhere has done...by being like Ginger Rogers said, "I did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards in heels.'
That star was a harbinger of hope. Today you are my star!"
That 19-minute speech by Senator Booker will go down as one of the greatest speeches by any senator. It proved that Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is an "All In" woman of integrity who represents the BEST in Black America.
Every Black woman gave Senator Booker and a virtual standing ovation for his unwavering support of Judge Jackson. She's All In because of the love of her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, and her daughters, Talia and Leila. Her parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown, married for more than 54 years, solidly stand by her. So does her younger brother Attorney Ketajh Brown.
Black women know that Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is All In because she's prepared to preside in the US Supreme Court as the harbinger of hope for us all.
The time is now, and this country is the better because of Black women like Ketanji Brown Jackson. She may be the first but certainly won't be the last. We salute her courage under fire for a job well done!
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.