By Micha Green and Lisa Brown,
Special to the AFRO,

Black women are leading the cause for confirming Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Many Black women-led organizations took to the SCOTUS to express their support for Judge Jackson’s seat on the Court including: the National Women’s Law Center Action Fund; She Will Rise; Black Women’s Roundtable; National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Chapter; National Education Association, Black Girl Magic Network; NAACP and National Organization for Women among several others. 

The organizations gathered from 9 a.m. to a bit after 10 a.m., when the hearings began— before counter protesters showed up to make their voices heard.

“We are here to support Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next Supreme Court Justice.  We think she’s entirely qualified, there’s not even a need for discussion in qualification, in every single way, in education, in experience and temperament, she deserves to sit on the Court.  And we are here as organizations led by Black women, to let her know we support her,” said President and CEO of ERA Coalition Carol Jenkins.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), who is leading the Senate hearings determining whether or not the first Black woman will sit on the SCOTUS, was present on the SCOTUS steps with the many Black women-led organizations cheering on Judge Jackson.  The historicity of the moment was not lost on him. 

“Today, the Senate will begin the historic hearings to consider Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” he tweeted on March 21, the Monday the hearings began.  

“The reality is the Court has never reflected the country it serves,” he later emphasized in his opening remarks. 

Durbin took the moment to not only acknowledge the power of the moment, but to honor Jackson and other Black women’s bravery.  He uplifted those Black women who paved the way and the ones advocating for Jackson’s confirmation, as the truly driving force behind the SCOTUS hopeful’s chances on the highest Court in America.

“It’s not easy being the first. Often you have to be the best, in some ways, the bravest, and many are not prepared to face that level of heat in the national spotlight.  But your presence here today and choice to brave this process will give hope to millions of Americans who see themselves in you.  As I mentioned to you, I was at the steps of the Supreme Court this morning to see the rally, and there were so many young African American women there seeing your pursuit as part of the dream” Durbin said.

The ERA Coalition President told the AFRO that she is confident Jackson will get her seat on the Supreme Court.

“I think everybody agrees that it’s time for this to happen, there’s no reason it shouldn’t.  I mean she far supersedes the kinds of things that we need to understand to make decisions about democracy going forward, so I think that this is a pretty much universal decision.  We think we have the votes of the Senate and we look forward to her becoming the ninth Justice,” Jenkins added.

Jenkins emphasized the inspiration and equity Judge Jackson’s nomination and hopeful confirmation will bring to Black women.

“What I hope is that it will give equality to all Black women.  This is a major step that we need, just to make sure that she knows she’s got support and we’re all here for her. But then there are millions of Black girls still not experiencing equality and justice in this country, so that’s what I hope the next step is,” Jenkins explained.

Durbin also discussed the hope for the future that Jackson’s nomination and potential confirmation brings for the United States.  In the conclusion of his opening remarks, the Democratic Whip from Illinois quoted another leader from his State to explain the weight of the moment— former Republican President Abraham Lincoln, who, on a technicality, freed enslaved Black people with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863 (though overall freedom was not experienced for enslaved Black people until the end of the Civil War and Juneteenth in 1865). 

“‘I happen to temporarily occupy this big White House.  I am a living witness that one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has,” he said quoting Lincoln. “Judge Jackson, we’re all just temporary occupants of the Senate, the House, even with a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, you Judge Jackson are one of Mr. Lincoln’s living witnesses of an America that is unafraid of challenge, willing to risk change, confident of the basic goodness of our citizens and you’re a living witness that in America all is possible.”

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