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Local judges react to historical moment for Ketanji Brown Jackson

“This is monumental,” said District 5 Superior court Judge Phyllis Gorham.
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 11:13 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Thursday was historical with a vote that approved Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is monumental,” said District 5 Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham.

Gorham knows what it’s like to make history. She became the first African American female Superior Court Judge for District 5, which includes New Hanover and Pender Counties. As a Superior Court Judge, she knows what it means to be a role model and an inspiration, especially to people of color.

“Having people that look like you make decisions about what happens to you is very important, and to have someone on the Supreme Court who looks like you, who understands like you do, who knows your circumstances, it’s going to really help the people of this country,” Gorham said.

Today’s historical move was also significant to James Faison, a District Court Judge in District 5.

It’s a dream realized since the Civil Rights Movement.

“Kind of reminds me of what Dr. King said in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” Faison said. “Where he says he looks forward to that day that his children will be judged by not the color of their skin, but the content of their character and that’s an example of what we saw here.”

Both Faison and Gorham, who admit they faced challenges before getting their current positions, say Thursday’s decision speaks volumes for the future.

“It could be any of us because that’s how possible it is now so if it’s possible for us, it’s certainly possible for those who are coming up behind us,” Gorham said. “I think the country is going through a very difficult time right now. There’s so much division and it’s my hope that people will see that we need to come together, and I think that this is something that says everyone is important.”

Gorham added that she was both shocked and amazed that this historical moment happened in her lifetime, and she’s excited to see how our country will continue to grow after this.

“I believe it shows that a democracy does work, [it’s an] example of the fact that impossibilities can become possibilities within a democratic government.” Faison said. “It’s just a sign of the fact that we are making progress even though there is much more to do, but the fact that we’re moving forward is encouraging.”

Faison ended the conversation by saying this is a moment we should all celebrate throughout the nation, but also know that there is still work to be done.

New Hanover County’s NAACP President Reddgo Long, Jr. released this statement:

“I am grateful that on this day, history has been made as the senate confirmation vote of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States is official. As President of the NAACP New Hanover County Branch, who has succeeded a powerful Black woman in the person of State Conference President Deborah Maxwell, I am elated to witness history in progress. The highest court of the land will have a Black woman in place, deciding significant cases. This pivotal moment redefines what is possible for the next generation of Black women and girls who can now dream of sitting on the highest court in the land as the stage is set for things to come within this country and beyond. On behalf of the NAACP New Hanover County Branch, we agree that Black women are indeed supreme and I celebrate her confirmation and look forward to seeing her take the bench.”

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