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Black women celebrate Cory Booker's speech on Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings

ABC News logo ABC News 3/24/2022
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New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker delivered an impassioned speech on the third day of Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearings Wednesday.

As Jackson wiped away tears, Booker applauded Jackson for her historic nomination to become the first Black woman on the nation's highest court and her path to getting there.

"You got here how every Black woman in America who's gotten anywhere has done, by being like Ginger Rogers: 'I did everything Fred Astaire did but backward, in heels,'" Booker said.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wipes away tears as she listens to Sen. Cory Booker speak on the third day of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022. © Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wipes away tears as she listens to Sen. Cory Booker speak on the third day of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022.

Despite a long list of credentials, Jackson has faced a barrage of questions from Republicans trying to brand her record as "soft on crime" or entrenched in liberal activism. Some Republicans continuously interrupted Jackson's responses to their questions or yelled in their arguments against her confirmation or credentials. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham stormed out of the hearing and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton called her a liar during their questioning.

In his speech, Booker said the harsh line of questioning against a Black woman didn't come as a shock.

MORE: Ketanji Brown Jackson spars with GOP in defense of record Sen. Cory Booker speaks on the third day of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022. © Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters Sen. Cory Booker speaks on the third day of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022.

"It's hard for me not to look at you and not see my mom, not to see my cousins -- one of them who had to come here and sit behind you," Booker said. "She had to have your back. I see my ancestors and yours."

"Nobody's gonna steal that joy," Booker said in his speech. "Nobody's taking this away from me."

Members of the audience become emotional during an impassioned speech by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., during Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022. © Andrew Harnik/AP Members of the audience become emotional during an impassioned speech by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., during Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022.

Some online celebrated Booker's speech, including Tracey Michae'l Lewis-Giggetts, the author of, "Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration."

"Watching Booker express Black joy, in that space, felt like an affirmation for all the times we've all had to laugh or dance or cry out in exaltation in the face of racism and white supremacist systems," Lewis-Giggetts told ABC News. "Even in the midst of clear racism and racist dog whistles, Booker could look into the face of Judge Brown-Jackson, see the long line of Black people who came before her, and rejoice with her."

She said it felt like a reminder that no matter what systems of oppression tell them, "we are worthy and valuable."

April Reign, a former lawyer and now racial justice activist, co-founded the advocacy organization She Will Rise in an effort to get a Black woman on the Supreme Court. She says Black women are no stranger to the barriers and treatment that Jackson is facing.

"These attacks, unfortunately, feel very familiar to me and millions of Black Women in this country, who have had to hold our tongue, steady our gaze, and endure without anyone speaking up on our behalf," Reign said. "As Black women, we have carried this country on our backs. It was gratifying to hear Sen. Booker acknowledge that, and remind Judge Brown Jackson, and all of us, that joy cometh in the morning."

She said she will be forever grateful that there was a Black man in such a position of power to stand up for Jackson and Black women everywhere.

A tear rolls down Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's cheek as Sen. Cory Booker speaks during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022. © Alex Brandon/AP A tear rolls down Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's cheek as Sen. Cory Booker speaks during her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 23, 2022.

Booker ended his speech by calling Jackson his "harbinger of hope."

MORE: Ketanji Brown Jackson clears major hurdle in historic Supreme Court bid

He continued: "This country is getting better and better and better. When that final vote happens, and you were sent on to the highest court in the land I'm going to rejoice."

"The greatest country in the world the United States of America will be better because of you."

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