I saw the news flash on my computer screen last Thursday, April 7: Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as the next United States Supreme Court Justice. I could hear the glass ceiling breaking. I squealed with relief, pride, and happiness. I once read somewhere that the first one through the glass gets the most cuts. As the first black woman judge in Chatham County (2004), and the first black Chief Judge of any class of court in Chatham County (2012), I know this to be true. Being first is humbling and challenging. I know what it feels like to carry the hope and expectations of your community, and the weight of greater scrutiny and attention than your peers.
I watched the confirmation hearings through my fingers as if I had been watching a scary movie. As I was still processing these historic events, a reporter asked me if I thought there was the possibility Judge Jackson would not be confirmed. My answer was yes. When Judge Jackson was nominated I realized I never expected to see a black woman ascend to the highest court in our country during my lifetime. Her confirmation gave me hope I didn’t know I lacked. Wow.
On her confirmation, my heart swelled with elation and resonance as Judge Jackson quoted poet Maya Angelou, “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.“
This historic moment in history was decades in the making, and gives hope to everyone—people of all colors and backgrounds. I am thrilled and honored as a black woman, a judge, and an American citizen to bear witness to this significant milestone in our country.