“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” — Matthew 20:6 NKIV
My favorite poem surfaced yet again during the acceptance speech given by Honorable Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, soon to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. This promise made by Biden fulfills his campaign to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court. The judge won’t be sworn in until this summer though, when Breyer officially retires.
While presiding over the historic vote, Harris, the nation’s first female, first Black and first Asian American vice president, said she wrote her goddaughter a note.
“I told her that I felt a deep sense of pride and joy, and what this moment means for our nation and her future,” Harris said.
When she does take her seat, the nine-member court will include four women — Jackson and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett — the most ever at one time. It will also be the first time in U.S. history that white men won’t be the majority on the Supreme Court. The bench will include five men, four of them white.
A few weeks ago, for Women’s History Month, I wrote a column which pays tribute to all African American women and addresses the invaluable role African American women have had over the centuries here in America. Proud to hear our newest soon-to-be justice open up her message with a portion of the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou 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 Katanji Brown Jackson to open with, after watching how she was treated by some of the GOP.
We have finally voted to confirm an African American woman for the Supreme Court — a history-making moment. We are so very proud of you, Honorable Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Let us keep her lifted up in prayer, even after her swearing-in which will be done by our vice president, Kamala Harris, this summer.
Another exciting quote from her speech is when she said, “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.”
“But we’ve made it. We’ve made it, all of us,” she continued. “In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court,”
Overwhelmed by 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.
“This is all pretty exciting for me, but nothing has brought me greater joy than being your mother,” Jackson said.
President Barack Obama nominated her for her first judicial role on the federal district court, and she thanked him as well. She understood the poem written by Langston Hughes, “Mother to Son”:
“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.”
Jackson, who 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.
“Yesterday 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 “poise 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.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, you were definitely chosen for such a time as this!
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.