Judge Jackson on her ascension to the Supreme Court: 'I am the dream and the hope of the slave.'

Speaking at the White House on Friday, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson delivered remarks about the historic nature of being the first African American woman to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Speaking about the sacrifice of African Americans who made the moment possible, Jackson quoted Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise," saying, "I am the dream and the hope of the slave."

Video Transcript

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: They also tell me that I'm a role model, which I take both as an opportunity, and as a huge responsibility. I am feeling up to the task, primarily because I know that I am not alone. I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models.

Generations of Americans who never had anything close to this kind of opportunity, but who got up every day and went to work, believing in the promise of America. Showing others through their determination, and yes, their perseverance, that good, good things can be done in this great country.

From my grandparents on both sides, who had only a grade school education, but instilled in my parents the importance of learning. To my parents, who went to racially segregated schools growing up, and were the first in their families to have the chance to go to college.

I am also ever buoyed by the leadership of generations past who helped to light the way. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and my personal heroine, Judge Constance Baker Motley. They and so many others did the heavy lifting that made this day possible.

And for all of the talk of this historic nomination and now confirmation, I think of them as the true path breakers. I am just the very lucky first inheritor of the dream of liberty and justice for all.


KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: To be sure, I have worked hard to get to this point in my career, and I have now achieved something far beyond anything my grandparents could have possibly ever imagined. But no one does this on their own. The path was cleared for me, so that I might rise to this occasion. And in the poetic words of Dr. Maya Angelou, I do so now, "while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave."


KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: "I am the dream and the hope of the slave."


KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: So as I take on this new role, I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride. 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.


KETANJI BROWN JACKSON: And, it is an honor, the honor of a lifetime, for me to have this chance to join the court, to promote the rule of law at the highest level, and to do my part to carry our shared project of democracy and equal justice under law forward into the future. Thank you again, Mr. President, and members of the Senate, for this incredible honor.