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So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen. — Matthew 20:6 NKIV
Last year, on June 30, 2022, we all enjoyed having our first African American female member of the Supreme Court sworn in. We are about two months or so away from that anniversary, so I’m getting a head start to celebrate the honorable Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Though she has joined a court that seems to be different from any we’ve seen for decades, with many types of issues arising, we must keep our eye on the prize! One, is the abortion pill.
As we get closer to her anniversary in a couple months, we will come back to share with you some of her rulings, votes, etc., grateful that President Joe Biden kept his promise to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court.
Last year, for Women’s History Month, I wrote a column that pays tribute to all African American women. The column, titled “Still I Rise,” addressed the invaluable role African American women have had over the centuries here in America. During the installation of Justice Brown last year, I was particularly proud to hear our newest justice open up her message with a portion of this poem by Maya Angelou, which was extremely rewarding. That poem has become my mantra. Not only did she open with it, she took that poem a step further and closed with it as well — remember the conclusion of the poem where it says, “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise; I rise; I rise.”
Such an appropriate poem for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to open with, after watching how she was treated by some of the GOP. In the history of America, we have finally voted to confirm an African American woman for the Supreme Court. Another American, Women’s History Month, history-making moment.
“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Jackson said. “But we’ve made it. We’ve made it, all of us.”
This quote was memorable: “In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court.”
Overwhelmed in what this moment meant, wiping away tears, the judge thanked her family, including her parents, brother, husband and two daughters, Leila and Talia, who were in attendance. She said, “This is all pretty exciting for me, but nothing has brought me greater joy than being your mother.”
President Barack Obama nominated her for her first judicial role on the federal district court, and last year, she thanked him as well. She understood the poem written by Langston Hughes, “Mother to Son,” which says, “Life ain’t been no crystal stair”:
“Well, son, I’ll tell you: Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. It’s had tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up, and places with no carpet on the floor— Bare. But all the time, I’se been a-climbin’ on, and reachin’ landin’s, and turnin’ corners, and sometimes goin’ in the dark Where there ain’t been no light. So boy, don’t you turn back. Don’t you set down on the steps ‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard. Don’t you fall now— For I’se still goin’, honey, I’se still climbin’, And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”
Last year, Jackson watched the Senate confirmation vote alongside Biden at the White House, said she was “humbled” and “honored” to be given the opportunity to serve as a justice.
“We witnessed a truly historic moment,” Biden said. “We’re going to look back and see this as a moment of real change in American history.”
He lauded the “pose and composure” Jackson showed during her confirmation hearings, during which she was interrupted by several Republicans who made what the president described as “vile” and “baseless” attacks on her record.
Look for more from me in this column, as we get this party started. Judge Ketanji Brown, your sisters and brothers are out here watching and rooting for you!
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email email@example.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.