By Addison Rose, Youth Mayor of Washington, DC
Growing up as a Black woman in Washington, DC, I’ve always viewed the U.S. Supreme Court as a historic symbol, something powerful and larger than life.
With plenty of class trips to Capitol Hill and lots of discussions with my parents, I’ve often thought about the magnitude of the Supreme Court’s influence and impact on past generations. I’ve contemplated the role it played in ensuring equal justice under the law, especially for young people like me and others from marginalized and minority communities. I have also pondered about Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice to serve on the court, and what his presence means for those eager to follow in his footsteps.
Today, I cannot help but reflect on the pending confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the weight of this moment on my generation’s future.
This is a moment filled with hope and excitement for Black girls and young women like me, and an opportunity for youth across America to celebrate and learn about the judicial system, the Supreme Court nomination process, and the promise of progress and democracy.
As the Youth Mayor of Washington, DC, my activism centers around DC statehood and fair representation, as well as voting rights, ending gun violence, and promoting mental health and wellness. Every day, I see youth advocates and community members constantly fighting for a seat at the table to help secure a better future, whether it is through winning voting rights or having a voice in Congress.
A better future starts with representation and inclusion — and our courts should reflect that, including the highest court in the land. I know that having the first Black woman justice means that there will be someone in that building who looks like me and who has walked in my shoes. That is a sign to the next generation that society is positively progressing.
Gen-Zers like myself can help keep this momentum going by learning more about Judge Jackson, her qualifications, and what her experience will mean to the Court and the nation.
Judge Jackson is truly dedicated to upholding the law around issues that affect all people’s lives — like the fight for voting rights, the freedom of speech and protecting the rights of people with disabilities. She graduated from Harvard, and with the belief that every person deserves to be treated with equality, dignity, and respect under the law, she decided to serve as a public defender to help DC’s most vulnerable residents who could not afford lawyers. She already serves on the federal court, and the U.S. Senate confirmed her to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit just last year. She has written nearly 600 opinions. She would bring a unique perspective to the Supreme Court not seen in its 233-year history.
Generation Z can also learn more about upcoming cases that the Supreme Court will decide this spring that will impact our lives for decades to come. Many of us have heard about cases like Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated schools, but do we understand what is at stake in the coming years?
For example, there is a case that could cancel Roe v. Wade, which protects our ability to make our own choices about our bodies. There is a case about gun control laws that could potentially make neighborhoods and schools across the country safer or more dangerous. All this while kids from DC, Michigan and Florida to Texas and Iowa go to school every day worrying about gun violence or mass shootings, instead of learning and living their best lives. The rate of gun deaths is going up for kids 14 and younger. There are also cases about vaccine mandates in some workplaces, tuition for schools that teach religion and so much more.
By following the confirmation hearings of Judge Jackson, Gen Z can also learn things like how the President nominates justices, how Congress conducts confirmation hearings, and what voters can do to elect a U.S. Senate that will advance just laws and confirm judicial nominees dedicated to upholding the Constitution.
I hold many leadership positions within my school and other organizations. I have also been in environments where my voice and the voices of other young people were the smallest in the room. That is why it is so important for us to gain more insight into the confirmation process of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, and phenomenal women leaders like her, so we can make a better future come faster.
There are not too many words to describe the excitement and hope this gives me — especially for African American women and girls in the District of Columbia. This is proof that we still have a chance to become whatever we dream of.
If I could tell my generation one thing, it would be this: Let us pay attention and support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson until she gets confirmed. She is living proof that progress is possible. Like the Court she will join, her nomination is also a historic symbol, something powerful and larger than life.