SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – Former classmates described Ketanji Brown Jackson as a living legend. Ellery Brown, her mother, a retired New World School of the Arts principal, was beaming with pride.
“I am standing here today by the grace of God as a testament to the love and support I have received from my family,” said Jackson, the first Black woman to be nominated to the United States Supreme Court, after being introduced by President Joe Biden who made the announcement Friday.
Brown, a former science teacher, was at home on Friday in Southwest Miami-Dade.
“Very proud of Ketanji,” she said. “Public education played such a big role is what we feel also because she went to public schools.”
Jackson is also the niece of former Miami Police Chief Calvin Ross and is a class of 1988 Palmetto Panther and is remembered at Miami Palmetto Senior High School as a driven student who excelled on the debate team.
As a teenager, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg squared off against Jackson at debate competitions, and was then her classmate at Harvard University and then Harvard Law School.
“All of us who did high school debate [in the 80s] knew and respected Ketanji Brown and some of us feared her because if we knew if we ever competed with her we would come out with a big ‘L’ because she was the superstar of high school debate in Miami-Dade County,” Aronberg said.
Jackson said it was her father, Johnny Brown, who started her on the law path. He was an attorney for the Miami-Dade County School Board.
She said she was inspired by watching him pour-over law books at the kitchen table when he pivoted from high school teacher to law school student.
“I watched him study and he became my first professional role model,” she said.
In watching her shine on the national stage, those who knew her expressed excitement that one of South Florida’s own is making history.
“If you would have asked me years ago who would be your friend most likely to end up on the Supreme Court I would have said Ketanji Brown. I am just overjoyed because she deserves it, she is a top-quality individual and she will make us all proud.”
Ellery Brown has a message, too, that she would like to convey. “Thanks to the community for supporting her and wishing her well.”
Other voices chimed in on Twitter showing community pride for Jackson.
Another impressive #MDCPSGrad is making national news! Congratulations to #Alumni305 and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on her nomination to the Supreme Court. You are a true inspiration to the @MDCPS family. #MDCPSMadehttps://t.co/1onxQgjelB— Jose L. Dotres, Ed.D. (@SupDotres) February 25, 2022
Congratulations to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on her historic nomination to the Supreme Court.— Mayor Francis Suarez (@FrancisSuarez) February 25, 2022
As an alumna of Palmetto High, and the niece of a former Miami Police Chief, Calvin Ross, this is a testament to this family’s commitment to public service.