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Home » Legislative Update » The AFM Celebrates Confirmation of the First African American Woman to the US Supreme Court

The AFM Celebrates Confirmation of the First African American Woman to the US Supreme Court


It always gives me great pleasure to celebrate the placement of longtime supporters and practitioners of the arts into powerful positions in the federal government. The arts do indeed matter to people like Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Her appointment gives the Supreme Court personal insight into the lives and work of artists and entertainment professionals. That means, when arts-related cases are heard by the court, musicians and other professional artists have a clear shot at fairness on the issues that matter to us most.

This is the second time in as many years that we celebrate a prominent jurist on the high court who has lent practical support to the arts. The November 2020 Legislative Update celebrated the extraordinary life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The column outlined her hands-on public support of opera in America, highlighting her years of support for the Washington National Opera and special affinity for the members of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, all members of AFM Local 161-710 (Washington, DC). It also celebrated her personal foray onto the Kennedy Center stage as the Duchess of Krakenthorp in the opera La fille du régiment (Daughter of the Regiment) by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.

Judge Jackson’s mother, Ellery Brown, was principal of the renowned New World School of the Arts in the family’s adopted hometown of Miami, Florida. Jackson was president of her class at Miami Palmetto Senior High and won the national oratory title at the National Catholic Forensic League championships. She took drama classes and performed improv comedy while earning her B.A. in government from Harvard University.

The nomination by President Joseph Biden of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court was historic. The significance was amplified by the fact that the US Senate confirmation vote was presided over by the first Black, first woman, and first Asian US vice president, Kamala Harris, who is also the de facto president of the Senate. The confirmation of Harvard educated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson signals a giant leap forward for the United States and the free world in general.

As a die-hard arts enthusiast, Judge Jackson is not only the newest beacon of hope for this country, but her appointment bodes well for this nation’s civil and human rights objectives. This appointment is also a signal to us as a union that the AFM is on the right social and professional trajectory. 

Judge Jackson will be sworn in this summer, following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer. We must use this episode in our nation’s young history to finish the work we have started.

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