What Does Ketanji Brown Jackson's Arrival on the Supreme Court Mean to You?

A month ago, I traveled to Oak Alley Plantation about an hour outside of New Orleans. Lined with carefully planted oak trees and anchored by a classic Greek Revival mansion, this old plantation constructed in the 1830s did not only rely on the wealth of its sugarcane harvest. Over 200 enslaved people lived on that property, laboring and serving as financial assets when the owner went to the bank to secure a line of credit.

I spent several grim hours there to visit the home built by slaves, witness the reconstructed slave shacks and learn about the area’s history. A chart from the Census of 1860 recalled the depth and breadth of this darkest stain on the American story: South Carolina and Mississippi had larger slave than free populations (Louisiana and Alabama nearly did) and 15 Southern states combined for a total of 3,950,343 enslaved people, a third of the region’s total population. That’s nearly 4 million lives, literally or figuratively shackled and chained.

Yesterday, April 8, 2022, Ketanji Jackson Brown—the newly confirmed Justice and a proud, profoundly capable African American woman born in Washington, DC—stood next to the President and Vice President of the United States and quoted poet Maya Angelou: "I am the dream and the hope of the slave." She also 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.” This was a historic day. A day to celebrate. A day to recognize the distance the country has traveled, reflect on the painful journey that led to this beautiful moment, and savor the possibilities of her inclusion on the highest court.

What does Ketanji Brown Jackson’s arrival on the Supreme Court mean to you? What do you think her impact can be in the coming years and decades? Does it cause you to look more to the past or to the future? Have you taken a moment to celebrate yet? As always, I look forward to hearing from you all.


Photo: By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images