Supreme Court Justice Jackson Reminds Alabama That History Cannot Be Whitewashed
Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, on hand to memorialize the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, stressed that Americans have to confront harsh realities about race in America.
Her speech hit back at the tendency of leaders like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to attempt to sanitize history by removing parts they find uncomfortable, NBC News reports.
“If we are going to continue to move forward as a nation, we cannot allow concerns about discomfort to displace knowledge, truth or history. It is certainly the case that parts of this country’s story can be hard to think about,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s comments came as Alabama’s Republican leaders seek to recreate a congressional map that a lower court has already said denied Black voters political determination. This follows a Supreme Court June 2023 ruling that the Voting Rights Act was enacted to protect Black voters from political retaliation.
Jackson has often been critical of the legal interpretations spouted by her conservative colleagues on the Court. She authored a minority dissent on the affirmative action case in 2023, which established that the admission policy violated the equal protection clause.
“It would be deeply unfortunate if the Equal Protection Clause actually demanded this perverse, a historical, and counterproductive outcome,” she wrote in her decision. “To impose this result in that Clause’s name when it requires no such thing, and to thereby obstruct our collective progress toward the full realization of the Clause’s promise, is truly a tragedy for us all.”
As it relates to the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church by the Ku Klux Klan that claimed the lives of four African-American girls, there is a growing movement not to forget the two Black boys (16-year-old Johnny Robinson and 13-year-old Virgil Ware) who died in the aftermath of the bombing that killed Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carol Robertson, and Denise McNair.
“While the bombing happened that morning, their deaths that afternoon were the residual effects of the terror. Those individuals who exacted that terror upon Virgil and Johnny, they were emboldened by what happened that day,” DeJuana Thompson, president of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, told NBC News.