Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s hard-fought and well-deserved confirmation to the SCOTUS as the first Black female Supreme Court Justice in history, signified a new era in the judiciary and was celebrated by millions of Americans. Jackson, unlike Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is actively participating in remembering the 1963 KKK bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama where four little girls were killed as they prepared for a Youth Day worship service.
Speaking from the church’s pulpit on the 60th anniversary of the horrific event, Justice Jackson implored Americans to not shy away from learning more about the history of racism in America or accept attempts to whitewash the ravages of hatred and bigotry.
“If we are going to continue to move forward as a nation, we cannot allow concerns about discomfort to displace knowledge, truth or history. It is certainly the case that parts of this country’s story can be hard to think about,” said Justice Jackson
Her words, honoring the lives of the six children lost in the bombing and the ensuing chaos, are particularly poignant in this moment. The war against teaching Black history has reached a fever pitch. Conservatives in states like Florida and Tennessee have worked to pass laws banning the teaching of any history that could potentially make white children feel bad or uncomfortable.
As teachers in Tennessee rightly pointed out in a recent lawsuit, this makes it nearly impossible to accurately teach about the racial history of this nation. In Florida, the state has gone so far as to push the notion that slavery benefited slaves by giving them work experience, as if slavery was merely jobs training.
During her tenure on the Supreme Court, Jackson has rejected the notion that the legacy of racism in our country is irrelevant. In her dissent in the Affirmative Action case, Jackson argued that by pretending the legacy of racism had no impact on our modern world, “the majority” has made the colorblind world it “wistfully touts much more difficult to accomplish.”