two singular American warrior women: one shared destiny

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown, have had a front row seat at their 51 year old daughter’s confirmation proceedings to be appointed the first Black woman to the United States Supreme Court during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s public hearings this week. Their faces remained noncommittal, even stoic, when their daughter’s faith, views on pornography, questions of character were attacked by the Republican Senators in the room.

The confirmation hearings that began with President Joe Biden’s nomination of Judge Jackson had a zoo-like quality with the zookeeper a/k/a Chairman Dick Durbin doing his best to maintain order – decorum was out the window. Johnny and Ellery Brown had undoubtedly seen worse behavior as natives of Miami growing up in the Jim Crow South but as public school teachers in Washington, D.C. they had also seen the impact of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s which gave their children more opportunities for success. Judge Jackson was born on September 14, 1970 in Washington, D.C.

When Judge Jackson was 27 years old in 1997, a woman named Madeleine Albright, who then President Bill Clinton had nominated to become the first female Secretary of State, went through her own Senate confirmation hearings in an atmosphere much less combative than the circus she was forced to endure. Republican Senator Jesse Helms who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led then United Nations Ambassador Albright through the process that ended in a unanimous Senate vote to confirm. Wow. Those were the days.

Madeleine Albright was born on May 15, 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovokia (now the Czech Republic). In 1939 the Nazi occupation forced her family to become refugees in England, but they returned home after World War II; only to flee again when the communist coup occurred. Her father Josef Korbel had been a member of the Czechoslovokian diplomatic service and sentenced to death by the communist regime. The second time her family fled Madeleine and her mother Anna took a ship to Ellis Island in November, 1948; Josef joined them later. They eventually settled in Denver, Colorado where Josef accepted a postion at the University of Denver.

Madeleine Albright’s storied career represents to me the best of America. To be “the first” woman in any field, to be known as a woman who “tells it like it is,” to successfully navigate the political land mines of our nation’s Capitol to serve our country in an ever changing world – these are accomplishments we celebrate; but to achieve as an outsider, a refugee, demands our highest honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed by President Barack Obama in 2012.

Madeleine Albright died yesterday, March 23, 2022 following a long battle with an enemy we all know: cancer.

The first woman ever called Madam Secretary of State left us as the first Black woman battled for her position on the Supreme Court in a contentious, even embarrassing at times, public hearing while her parents, husband, daughters, brother and others watched. The coincidental timing was remarkable to me.

Yet I had a spirit of hope for the future when I heard Judge Jackson’s answers to the questions posed yesterday, a glimmer of hope for equality and fairness for my granddaughters. I also felt that same spirit of hope in the legacy Madeleine Albright leaves, her persistence in pursuing freedom for all nations, the world peace she strived for. I salute both of these warrior women during Women’s History Month for their shared destiny, for the heritage we can honor by emulating their courage in our own outrageous acts of everyday rebellions.


About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to two singular American warrior women: one shared destiny

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    Sheila, sometimes I’m at a loss for words over the degeneration of the Republican party. Ketanji Brown Jackson deserved a dignified hearing. She handled it with poise and grace. Clearly she’s up to the task as she’s not rattled by jumped up chimpanzees playing at government.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Debra says:

    Wonderful post, Sheila. I so appreciate and look forward to reading your thoughts on current and past events.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The sublime and the ridiculous. Both women sublime, just one hearing ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

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