Hello! It's the weekend, this is The Weekender. ☕
While Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson celebrated a moment of America at its best — finally ending the 232-year drought of Black women serving on the Supreme Court — she invoked a reminder of America at its worst.
"Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave," she said, quoting Dr. Maya Angelou’s inimitable poem “And Still I Rise.”
Friday was, for Jackson and the countless Black girls and women watching, a day of triumph. But it was not presented unalloyed of the tribulations she and those who came before her suffered and survived.
While describing her confirmation hearings, President Joe Biden referred to certain lines of Republican questioning as “verbal abuse” and thundered that she withstood “the most vile, baseless assertions and accusations” with poise and grace.
“That strength lifted up millions of Americans who watched you, Judge Jackson, especially women and women of color who have had to run the gauntlet in their own lives,” he said.
Jackson reminded listeners that in one generation, her family had gone from segregation to seeing its member on the Supreme Court — both a terrifically inspiring line, and one that underscores the dark reality that the evils of state-sanctioned segregation existed in the very recent past.
Even Jackson’s elevation to the Court, a victory in making the historically nearly completely all-white, all-male body more representative, won’t change its fundamental ills. Five of the six conservatives comprising a supermajority poised to fundamentally alter American life were nominated by Presidents most people voted against.
And yet. And yet.
The refrain favored by prominent Black politicians from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to members of the Black Congressional Caucus has been the same: “Nobody can steal our joy.”
Jackson’s elevation to the Supreme Court doesn’t fix the abundant problems with the body or the country. But it’s a moment of shining, hopeful progress in a country constantly at war between its demons and better angels.
“This is not only a sunny day — I mean this from the bottom of my heart — this is going to let so much sun shine on so many young women, so many young Black women, so many minorities,” Biden said, adding: “We will turn to our children and grandchildren and say: ‘I was there.’”