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Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson: Opinion Piece

Apr 12, 2022 10:00AM ● By Karen Warrington
Ketanji Brown Jackson making speech

Image Source: Photographer Lloyd DeGrane via Wikimedia Commons

The world watched as Judge Jackson, hopeful to become the first African American woman to serve on the U. S. Supreme Court, endured biased and excruciating interrogation by Republican senators. But, somehow she didn’t get weary, and instead persevered with received encouragement from colleagues.

As Judge Jackson, and all of us, attempt to overcome challenges and roadblocks to professional goals, it’s important to remember that we are often leaning or standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. For example, Judge Jane Matilda Bolin was the first African American woman judge in America. However, her firsts don’t stop there. Bolin was also the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School and the first to join the New York City Bar. On July 22, 1939, New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia appointed Bolin as a judge of the Domestic Relations Court and, unbelievably, for 20 years she remained the only Black woman judge in the nation. 

Being the first isn’t easy but somehow these women found the strength and the drive to pursue and achieve their goals despite the obstacles thrown at them. 

Poet Langston Hughes best captures this will to keep going in the poem, “Mother to Son”. The mother says very simply that life “ain’t been no crystal stair,” and she urges her son, and everyone, forward by saying,

“… don’t you set down on the steps

Cause you find it kind of hard.

Don’t you fall now -

For I’se still goin’ honey,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”

 Karen Warrington has had a decades long career as a broadcast journalist, communications professional, performing artist, and documentary filmmaker. She has traveled extensively throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. She is committed to being a voice for the African Diaspora.

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