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KOKOnista Of The Day: Ketanji Brown Jackson Is The Inspiration All Young Black Girls Studying Law Needs

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On Feb. 25, the White House confirmed that President Joe Biden is nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Jackson, who currently serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and who the White House described as an “exceptionally qualified” nominee in a statement, is poised to become the first Black woman to serve on America’s highest court.

Ketanji Brown Jackson born Ketanji Onyika Brown is an American attorney and jurist serving as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 2021.

Jackson was born Ketanji Onyika Brown on September 14, 1970, in Washington, D.C. Her parents were both graduates of historically Black colleges and universities. Her father, Johnny Brown, was a lawyer who ultimately became the chief attorney for the Miami-Dade County School Board; her mother, Ellery, served as school principal at New World School of the Arts. While she was in college, Jackson’s uncle Thomas Brown Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent cocaine conviction. Years later, Jackson persuaded a law firm to take his case pro bono, and President Barack Obamaeventually commuted his sentence. Another uncle, Calvin Ross, served as Miami’s police chief.

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Jackson grew up in Miami, Florida, and graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School in 1988. In her senior year, she won the national oratory title at the National Catholic Forensic League Championships in New Orleans, the second-largest high school debate tournament in the United States.

After high school, Jackson studied governmentat Harvard University. She performed improv comedy and took classes in drama, and led protests against a student who displayed a Confederate flag from his dorm window. Jackson graduated in 1992 with an A.B. magna cum laude, having written a senior thesis entitled “The Hand of Oppression: Plea Bargaining Processes and the Coercion of Criminal Defendants”.

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Jackson worked as a staff reporter and researcher for Time magazine from 1992 to 1993, then attended Harvard Law School, where she was a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She graduated in 1996 with a Juris Doctor cum laude.

Ketanji Brown Jackson

She began her legal career with three clerkships, including one with U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Prior to her elevation to an appellate court, from 2013 to 2021, she served as a district judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Jackson was also vice chair of the United States Sentencing Commission from 2010 to 2014. Since 2016, she has been a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers.

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On February 25, 2022, President Joe Bidennominated Jackson to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, filling the vacancy created by Breyer’s retirement. If confirmed, Jackson would be the first black woman to sit on the Supreme Court.

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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson poses for a portrait on Feb., 18, 2022, in her office in Washington.

Photo Credit: Getty

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