— Sarahbeth Maney (@sbmaneyphoto) March 24, 2022
On March 21, 2022, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson made her opening statement—and history. Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated to serve as a Supreme Court justice, making her opening statement to the Senate, and the subsequent four days of hearings, historic events. The hearings themselves are essentially an interview, designed to be a time where senators ask incisive questions to gauge the nominee's fitness for the life-tenured position of Supreme Court justice. Afterwards, they vote to confirm the nominee. A confirmation would make Jackson the first Black woman to be appointed a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Much of her family, whom she acknowledged and lovingly thanked in her statement, was in the audience. Their emotion was heartwarmingly evident, but it's the look her 17-year-old daughter, Leila, gave her that truly caught everyone's attention. In an inspiring image taken by photographer Sarahbeth Maney, Leila is seen in focus in the background, smiling as she watches her mother in the foreground address the Senate. The teen's face is beaming with a look of pure pride and admiration. Upon capturing the immediately iconic image, Maney says, “Having the honor to document this historic moment, as the first Black photography fellow for the @nytimes DC bureau reminds me that each step we take as the ‘first’ will only help move us further away from being the last.”
— Sarahbeth Maney (@sbmaneyphoto) March 21, 2022
In her statement, Jackson addressed her two daughters—Talia and Leila—directly, saying, “Girls, I know it has not been easy as I've tried to navigate the challenges of juggling my career and motherhood. And I fully admit that I did not always get the balance right. But I hope you've seen that with hard work, determination, and love, it can be done. I am so looking forward to seeing what each of you chooses to do with your amazing lives in this incredible country. I love you so much.”
Jackson also thanked her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, for his love, support, and friendship. The two met in college over 30 years ago, and have been married for 25 of those years. Dr. Jackson wiped tears from his eyes as his wife said, “I have no doubt that without him by my side from the very beginning of this incredible professional journey, none of this would have been possible. He's been the best husband, father, and friend I could ever imagine.”