UPDATED: 8:00 a.m. ET, March 21
Originally published: March 2
Women’s History Month is poised to get the Blackest jolt in its existence as U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson begins what are expected to be her successful confirmation hearings on Monday. The esteemed juror is part of an elite group of Black women who are making significant strides on policies and issues impacting Americans globally this year.
From the housing crisis and the pandemic to voting rights and police reform, these changemakers dare to do the unthinkable when it comes to shifting the scales of justice and equality for all. To celebrate the annual month-long holiday, let’s honor to these five Black women who are making history in 2022.
Ketanji Brown Jackson
On Feb. 25, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was finally nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, D.C. Politicians and critics were already expecting President Biden to announce his nomination for the federal judge given his plea to appoint a woman of color to the coveted position. It was an absolute no-brainer judging by Jackson’s strong resume.
Back in June, the 51-year-old was sworn in to serve on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Previously, Jackson had served as a judge for the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia since 2013. If elected, Jackson would be the first black woman to sit on the Supreme Court.
As previously reported, in 2018, the former federal public defender stood up to Donald Trump after he tried to restrict the ability of federal employees to collectively bargain and limit the amount of time that full-time federal employees could dedicate to union activities. Under the Obama administration, Jackson upheld the law that required big meatpacking companies to show labels that identified animal products and their country of origin.
This isn’t the first time that the Harvard graduate was considered for the Supreme Court. Jackson was nominated by former President Barack Obama following the death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.
Missouri Rep. Cori Bush
Cori cemented her name in history during the 2020 election after she became the first Black woman to represent the state of Missouri in Congress, beating out Republican Anthony Rogers. Bush has used her position of power to change so much in her community from standing on the frontlines of the Black Lives Matter movement to sleeping outside the Capitol in protest of last year’s Eviction Moratorium. The brave move saved millions of Americans from potentially becoming unhoused during the height of the pandemic. Because of Bush, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention extended the moratorium on August 3.
Now, Bush has set her sight on defunding the police. The steadfast lawmaker wants to pass legislation that would allow for city budgets to divert funds from the police into social service departments like affordable housing and human and health services. Bush was recently slammed with criticism for supporting the controversial phrase, as some politicians blame the viral saying for the uptick in crime that’s currently impacting America. The Congresswoman argued that it was far from the truth.
“‘Defund the police’ is not the problem,” Bush told Axios during a recent interview. “We dangled the carrot in front of people’s faces and said we can get it done and that Democrats deliver when we haven’t totally delivered. If [Republicans] take the majority, it’s just done as far as trying to get the legislation across,” she added.
Back in April, the politician supported St.Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones when she passed a Board of Estimate and Apportionment vote to defund the city’s police. Jones reallocated $4 million from the police budget into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, victim support services, and the legal support to the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency among other programs. Bush gushed about the historic feat on her website, telling the public in a statement:
“For decades, our city funneled more and more money into our police department under the guise of public safety, while massively underinvesting in the resources that will truly keep our communities safe. Previous administrations spent more per capita on policing than all comparable cities, building a police force that is larger than that of any city comparable to St. Louis. But even as more and more money has gone into policing, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department continues to be the deadliest police force in the nation, year after year — all while violence in our communities continues to skyrocket.”
She continued: “The people have demanded a new approach to community safety — and from the Mayor’s office to the Halls of Congress, we were elected to deliver one. We have a mandate to fully fund our social services. It marks a new future for our city. We are building a St. Louis where elected officials lead in partnership with activists, organizers, and our communities. We are building a St. Louis where our schools are funded, and our unhoused neighbors can be sheltered.”
Letitia Ann “Tish” James was elected to serve as the Attorney General of New York after succeeding appointed Attorney General Barbara Underwood in 2018. She is the first African-American and first woman to be elected to the position.
Last year, James launched a massive investigation into the shifty business practices of former President Trump. This week, James doubled down on her plea to bring Trump and his children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. to justice after defense attorneys claimed that the family would not participate in depositions ordered by a Manhattan judge.
“While they have the right to seek a delay, they cannot deter us from following the facts and the law wherever they may lead,” she wrote in a statement. “Make no mistake: My office will continue to pursue this case without fear or favor because no one is above the law.” Last year, the former lawyer and political activist announced her bid to run for NYC governor, though she later dropped out of the race to pursue legal action against Trump.
Upon entering office, the Democrat filed a $2.75M lawsuit against two right-wing conspiracy theorists who disseminated false information to Black voters. As previously reported, the suspects, Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman used a fake organization “Project 1599” to target Black voters. The pair used robocalls to misinform Black voters about vote-by-mail efforts. Wohl and Burkman’s disinformation campaign violated state and federal law, according to the Office of the Attorney General.
Recently, Abrams filed a lawsuit to contest the 2018 election results, spearheading the suit through her Fair Fight Action campaign. According to Axios, the lawsuit will hone in on a policy called “exact match,” which requires that a voter’s name on their ID and their voter roll match exactly. If they don’t, voters need to provide additional information for verification. Abrams said during an interview that she did not want to overturn the election results, rather, that she was looking to set an example of justice for ongoing election processes.
“I should be held accountable for everything I say, be able to tie it to evidentiary facts. And that’s what I’ve been doing. And that’s what I’ll continue to do.”
The trial has officially been set for April.
Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize nominee announced the relaunch of her Civics for the Culture educational series. The 8-part series helps to educate young voters of color on election rules, the process of implementing bills into law, and the roles of elected officials at different levels of government among other topics. The exciting series launched last year and invited a number of leading voices to spearhead the campaign including Selena Gomez, Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union, and more. During the 2020 election, the initiative helped to activate young voters in communities all across the country by providing them with voting deadlines and numbers to call with questions or concerns about the voting process in their area.
LaTosha Brown is the co-founder of the voting rights group Black Voters Matter (BVM), which has been noted for its work on the 2017 U.S. Senate special election in Alabama and its influence during the 2020–21 Georgia state elections. The voting rights and community empowerment organization strives “to increase power in our communities” by focusing on voter registration, independent election-related expenditures, and organizational development & training for other grassroots groups.
BVM played a key role in the 2017 election of Doug Jones to the United States Senate from Alabama. Jones was the first Democrat to fill the seat since 1992, and Black voter turnout was especially notable in the election, with 98% of Black women casting votes for Jones. A year later, the organization saw another victory. Brown and her team were credited with increasing Black voter turnout during the 2020–21 Georgia state elections, including the pivotal 2021 United States Senate runoff election won by Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.