Emotions high at White House celebration of Supreme Court’s Jackson: ‘Dream and the hope of the slave’

TheGrio was in attendance as an emotional Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson addressed the nation after being confirmed to the high court.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson (C) delivers remarks during an event celebrating her confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court with U.S. President Joe Biden (L) and Vice President Kamala Harris (R) on the South Lawn of the White House on April 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“I am the dream and the hope of the slave,” said Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as she addressed the nation at the White House on Friday as Biden-Harris cabinet officials, administration staffers, members of Congress, and distinguished guests convened on the South Lawn to celebrate her historic confirmation as the first Black woman to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court.

Quoting the late poet Maya Angelou, Jackson’s remarks drew an audible reaction from the event’s attendees on the White House South Lawn. 

“I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride,” said an emotional Jackson. “We have come a long way toward perfecting our union. In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.”

She added, “It is the honor of a lifetime for me to have this chance to join the court to promote the rule of law at the highest level and to do my part to carry our shared project of democracy and equal justice under Law forward into the future.”

“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. All of us,” said Jackson.

President Joe Biden, who officially fulfilled his campaign promise as a candidate to install a Black woman justice to the high court, praised Jackson’s performance during an intense confirmation hearing. The president called it a day of “hope and progress” as Judge Jackson — who will be sworn in as Justice Jackson this fall — along with Vice President Harris, stood beside him on a sunny Friday afternoon.

“I knew the person I nominated would be put through a painful and difficult confirmation process. But I have to tell you, what Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that,” said Biden. “It was verbal abuse. The anger, the constant interruptions, the most vile, baseless assertions and accusations. In the face of it all, Judge Jackson showed the incredible character and integrity she possesses.”

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during an event celebrating her confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court on the South Lawn of the White House on April 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Vice President Kamala Harris, who presided over the Senate vote to confirm Jackson on Thursday, recalled during her remarks Friday drafting a letter to her goddaughter to commemorate the historic moment. 

“I told her that I felt such a deep sense of pride and joy and about what this moment means for our nation and for her future…I wrote to her and told her what I knew this would mean for her life, and all that she has in terms of potential,” said Harris.

“The road toward our more perfect union is not always straight, and it is not always smooth. But sometimes it leads to a day like today. A day that reminds us what is possible…when progress is made. And that the journey, well, it will always be worth it.”

President Biden took a victory lap of sorts as he noted his commitment to diversifying the federal courts and selecting a record number of Black women to the bench. He acknowledged the power of representation, saying, “When people can see themselves in others…that’s the most powerful thing.”

“That’s why I’m proud that Kamala Harris is my vice president of the United States,” said President Biden, who added that Harris was “invaluable during this entire process.”

The historic confirmation of Jackson, who served nearly 10 years as a federal judge and previously served as vice-chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and as a public defender, was a day of celebration for the Biden-Harris administration and the nation – but it was especially so for Black Americans and Black women. 

(L-R) Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walk out of the White House for an event celebrating Jackson’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court on the South Lawn on April 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, told theGrio, that there is “No greater joy than seeing the embodiment of Dr. King’s dream. Judge Brown Jackson is that for all of America and for Black women, the toiling of our mothers and grandmothers (like mine) brought us this far by faith. And without shame that one girl slave can now rest in peace a little easier.”

Danielle Conley, deputy counsel to President Biden, told theGrio that as a Black woman seeing another Black woman soon take a seat on the Supreme Court, it “fills me with so much joy and pride.”

“For me, the takeaway from all of this is the power of representation…we belong in every room, we belong in all spaces. We belong on the highest court in the land,” said Conley, who along with the White House counsel staff helped shepherd Judge Jackson through the confirmation process.

“For all of the little Black girls growing up right now, looking up watching the vice president preside over the confirmation of the first African-American woman Supreme Court justice, there’s nothing greater than that. And then looking up and being able to see themselves and know that the sky’s the limit…that is the joy that I’m taking away from all of this.”

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