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Beck Cultural Center president, community leaders, speak on historic swearing-in of Ketanji Brown Jackson

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, officially made history Thursday as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On Thursday, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, made history as the first Black woman to be sworn into the Supreme Court. The moment inspired some Knoxville leaders to reflect on Black history and the significance of having Jackson on the court.

"There are many African Americans, male and female, who are waiting for opportunities to bust open the doors of those offices, of those positions, that have never been filled," said Rev. Reneé Kesler, from the Beck Cultural Center. "And so I think this is that moment where we can say not only that we did it, but we had candidates that were ready."

A local attorney also called the swearing-in of Jackson an important step for young Black girls aspiring to become lawyers.

"For young people now to be able to look to her and see themselves represented," said Lakenya Middlebrook, Knoxville's director of community safety and an attorney herself. "Beyond young Black girls, to see a Black woman and understand she is qualified means a lot to our society."

She said the moment helped Black people across the country feel like they have more of a seat at the table when it comes to national rulings and to the U.S. government.

With Jackson, there will be four women on the Supreme Court for the next term, a first that has been championed by advocates pushing for more diversity at the top of the nation's judiciary system. 

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