Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s daughters, Leila and Talia, have a ton to be proud of. After all, their mom is the first Black woman to be nominated (and soon, confirmed) to the Supreme Court since its founding in 1790. The first federal public defender appointed to the court. The first justice to have represented criminal defendants since Thurgood Marshall. Need we say more? She’s amazing – but if her credentials don’t prove it, the way her daughter Leila gazes at her in admiration will.
The now-viral photo is literally mom goals in one picture. It was captured by photographer Sarahbeth Maney during Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, and shows Leila positively beaming with pride as she looks at her mother. Ms. Maney uploaded the photo to her social media accounts, where — understandably — the whole world fell in love with the sweet image.
Being the first often means you have to be the best — and the bravest. 📸 @sbmaneyphoto for @nytimes pic.twitter.com/DSZiawlnDd
— Sarahbeth Maney (@sbmaneyphoto) March 24, 2022
“I noticed how proud her daughter was of her, and it gave me chills when I saw this look that her daughter gave her. It was just this look of such pride and admiration,” Ms. Maney told The New York Times. She admits that she never expected the photo to gain as much traction as it did, but clearly everyone else was as moved as she. “I instantly posted it because I knew what I felt when I took the photo, and I really gravitated toward it,” she said.
Notably, Sarahbeth Maney is a trailblazer in her own right as the first Black photography fellow for the Times, which makes this photo just a little bit more special. “On my average day, when I’m in the D.C. press pool, I am the only Black woman or Black photographer in general,” she said in her Times interview. “And during these hearings, it was the first time in my career where I worked alongside more than one other Black photographer, which is major to be able to share that space with people who understand the Black experience.”
Every parent can only hope that their child has as much admiration for them as Leila has for her incredible mom. And don’t think all hope is lost if your relationship with your own kids isn’t all sunshine and roses; neither is Judge Brown Jackson’s, as she herself admitted in a candid 2017 speech entitled Reflections on My Journey as a Mother and a Judge.
“During the workday, I am a federal judge, which means that people generally treat me with respect. … But in the evening … all of my wisdom and knowledge and authority evaporate,” she said. “My daughters make it very clear that as far as they’re concerned I know nothing, I should not tell them anything, much less give them orders – that is, if they talk to me at all.”
They may not always talk to her — as most parents of teenagers can attest – but in this photo, nothing can be more clear: a picture is worth a thousand words.
These history-making Black moms were (and are!) paving the way for women everywhere.
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