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NCNW CEO Janis Mathis is fighting for fellow lawyer Ketanji Jackson’s Supreme Court nod

NCNW CEO Janis Mathis is fighting for fellow lawyer Ketanji Jackson's Supreme Court nod
Attorney Janis Mathis (Photo by Munson Steed for rolling out)

WASHINGTON – Attorney and civil rights activist Janis Mathis feels a special kinship with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Jackson is navigating the harsh terrain — the Congressional committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol — on the path to possibly becoming a jurist with the most powerful legal institution in the country. Mathis stands strong by Jackson’s side as she is perched on the precipice of making history.

“Judge Jackson seems familiar to me. She reminds me of all the women that I went to school with, all my lawyer friends, who have been qualified and experienced with some four decades out of law school,” said Mathis, who graduated from Duke University before procuring her law degree at the University of Georgia. “Now we got the opportunities to match the qualifications and the preparation.”

Mathis told rolling out that Jackson’s turbulent and often contentious hearing on Capitol Hill invokes powerful memories about her grandmother and mother who were fighting to vote in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era.

“This is the apocalyptic turning of the worlds it is. It’s a milestone. It’s a point in history. It’s something that we need to take a minute and observe it, and appreciate it and look around and say, how did we get here? What does this mean to us? I can’t help but think about my grandmother, and my mother, and the people who raised me and how astonished they would be” that the immensely qualified Jackson could become a Supreme Court jurist, Mathis said.

As a longtime civil rights activist, Mathis eagerly joined Melanie Campbell, the convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable, and other influential Black women as they flooded the telephone lines to Congress in support of Jackson’s momentous moment. She lamented the poor and often unfair line of questioning and antagonizing remarks from some conservative committee members aimed at Jackson.

Mathis wants to let Congress know that there are multitudes of Black folks watching with discriminating and discerning eyes in how they treat, and mistreat, Jackson.

“What we’re doing here today is we’re calling the United States senators who are on the Judiciary Committee and those who are not because they are the ones who will vote. The Constitution says that the Senate shall advise and consent to the president’s nomination of persons to the Supreme Court. And so we’re calling them to let them know that we care, we’re watching and is also a little bit of ‘don’t mess with our girl,’ ” Mathis said in a steely tone about Congress.  

Mathis also added facetiously that, “we’re not trying to take our earrings off. But be assured that while we have our Harvard degrees and all, that we will come for you if you treat this woman disrespectfully.”

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