Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after her confirmation as associate justice of the US Supreme Court on the South Lawn of the White House on April 8, 2022.Chris Kleponis/CNP/Zuma

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On Friday, soon-to-be-Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson spoke to the historic moment of her ascension as the first Black woman to the United States Supreme Court on the White House lawn. 

In a tearful speech, Jackson paid tribute to her heritage as a Black woman descended from slaves, quoting Dr. Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise and noting that she rises to the nation’s highest court with the help of those who came before her. “The path was cleared for me so that I might rise to this occasion,” she said. “I do so now while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave. I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”

After a painful confirmation process in which Republicans sought to tarnish her image with unfounded accusations of being soft on pedophiles, the ceremony on Friday was a celebration of Jackson and the historic nature of her nomination and confirmation. Despite the ugliness of the past few weeks, Jackson spoke with optimism about the progress that her nomination represents.

“I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride,” she said. “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.”

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