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The Moral Arc of the Universe Bends Toward Justice

Disclaimer: Posts are solely the views of the author and do not represent the views of Brandeis University or the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity.

By Maria Madison, IERE Director

Image from NBC News

From the 15th through 19th centuries 12 ½ million Africans were forcibly transported across brutal waters to the Americas.  An estimated 2 million perished ‘en route’; millions died or were murdered during brutal servitude, while others were forced to procreate or nurse plantation owners’ babies. Those who survived fought against long odds that they would ever be the lineage of a diaspora United States Supreme Court Judge nominee, this time named Judge Ketanji Jackson.

Source: David Eltis and David Richardson, Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New Haven, 2010). Retrieved March 25, 2022 from

This week the United States is witnessing what had always been hidden in plain sight. At the opening of her Supreme Court judicial nomination hearings, Judge Ketanji Jackson said, resolutely, I owe my success to my parents, my family, and my method of self-reflection, contextual analysis, and consideration of history.  

From: PIH/MGH CMO Heller Webinar, March 16, 2022.

The Hearings at times resembled the resistance to bending an arc toward justice, using tactics tried and tested over centuries.  Selectively probing sections of decisions Judge Jackson made long ago, various Senators challenged Judge Jackson on leniency in sentencing, for example, an 18-year-old and Guantanamo detainees, repeatedly attacking and interrupting her testimony.  Each time Justice Jackson rose above the self-serving fray with dignity, calm, and brilliance quoting statutes and the laws that governed her decisions.

On Day 3 of the Hearings, that’s a win for ALL America.

Maria Madison, Director of The Institute for Economic and Racial Equity