Governance in Heels

Ketanji Brown Jackson: A woman’s journey to greatness inspired by her father’s passion

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By Bongile Sigonyela

Judge Jackson was born in Washington, DC but grew up in Miami, Florida. She was raised by her parents, who had started out as public-school teachers. Later, as their career progressed, they became leaders and administrators in the Miami-Dade Public School system.

Her father made moves for a shift in his career while Judge Jackson was still a pre-schooler. This move would be influential to Judge Jackson’s entire career and life. Her father pursued law.

In a 2017 lecture, Judge Jackson traced her passion for law to those days of her father’s law school days. On the days she and her father sat side by side, Brown with her colouring book and her father with case law and Socratic questioning homework, her love for this discipline began. Perhaps her parents’ academic background shaped Brown to become a high achiever throughout her childhood. She was a debate and speech star who later became elected as the ‘mayor’ of Parliament at Junior high. She subsequently made her way up to become the student body president at Palmetto Senior high school.

However, just like any young, black, ambitious young girl, she faced discouragement from those around her, more so from her school. She was told not to be too ambitious when she shared her goal of pursuing her higher education at Havard University. Nevertheless, judge Jackson was capable and quite determined. Not only did she gain entry at Havard University, but she managed to graduate magna cum laude and earned her spot at Havard Law School, where she held the editorial position at the Havard Law Review. Ketanji Brown Jackson silenced those who said she was aiming ‘too high’ by this achievement. Her successful academic career at Havard law launched her into the law field, where she has risen to the pinnacle, making history with her appointment by President Joe Biden and subsequent ratification by the Senate as the first black female justice of the US Supreme Court. It was a journey that began with the position of a Judge on the U.S Court of Appeal for the D.C Circuit. She was a judge on the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia, Vice-Chair of the U.S Sentencing Commission, Public Defender, Supreme Court Clerk and Perspective on the Legal System. Her vast experience indeed makes her a fitting candidate for a Justice position at the Supreme Court.

Beyond all this, judge Jackson is a wife and a mother to two daughters.

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