Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson reflected Tuesday how within “one generation” her family has gone from experiencing segregation in Miami’s public schools to her potential confirmation as the first Floridian on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jackson’s reflection on her Miami roots and the city’s civil rights history stemmed from a question about a speech she delivered in 2020 at the University of Chicago School of Law in which she quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“My parents when they were growing up in Miami, Florida, attended and had to attend racially segregated schools because by law when they were young white children and Black children were not allowed to go to school together,” Jackson told Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee who had posed a question about whether she still agreed with King’s dream that people would be judged “by the content of their character” rather than their race and that she inherited a world that had been transformed by the civil rights movement.
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“My reality when I was born in 1970 and went to school in Miami, Florida, was completely different. I went to a diverse public junior high school, high school, elementary school,” Jackson, 51, continued.
“And the fact that we had come that far was to me a testament to the hope and the promise of this country, the greatness of America, that in one generation – one generation – we could go from racially segregated schools in Florida to have me sitting here as the first Floridian to ever be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Grassley, 88, the oldest member of the Senate, said he was glad that the country had the opportunity to hear Jackson’s reflection on the experience.
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Jackson has repeatedly reflected on her Miami upbringing during the confirmation process, speaking Monday about her father’s studies at the University of Miami School of Law and her formative time on the debate team at Miami Palmetto High School.
In addition to highlighting her Florida ties, the exchange with Grassley also represented one of the most significant reflections on race so far in the historic confirmation process. Jackson would be the first Black woman to ever serve on the court and just the third Black justice.
Jackson is likely to field more difficult questions about race as the second days of hearings continue. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, accused Jackson the previous day of supporting critical race theory, an academic concept about the role of race in shaping public policy that has become a frequent target of Republican lawmakers in recent years.
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