In that moment Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Jackson spoke on behalf of countless Black women who had to find the strength, patience and grace to answer insinuating question about their qualifications, character, and credentials.
It was Day One of the Senate Judiciary Committee's questioning as Jackson, a Harvard-educated Black woman, was making history.
The federal judge was subject to hours of scrutiny by skeptics, specifically the Republican senators. They are building a wall against her landmark nomination, which is the first in court's 233 year history. could vote en bloc against it.
Melanie L. Campbell, President and CEO of National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and convener of Black Women's Roundtable said that "it was really traumatizing watching."
Jackson was questioned about her views on books on critical race theory, which drew her exasperated, sighful sigh. She then suggested that the sentences she imposedon child-pornography defendants were too loose. The Republicans' questions tapped into long-standing American grievancesover class, race and public safety.
Some supporters feel that Jackson, a respected jurist and mother to two children, is a secret radical libertarian or poses a threat to their safety. This is yet another example where highly qualified Black women have to suffer indignities, distortions to their credentials, even though they are breaking down racial barriers within American society.
Campbell said to The Associated Press, "The othering of [her], in a sense like she's against children," was a tired political tactic.
"My spirit felt it was to bring down this Black woman because she's about break the glass ceiling that once broken opens the door to more."
Democrats praise President Joe Biden for choosing Jackson, calling it long overdue and a chance to make the court more representative of the diverse nation that it serves. They have been slow in defending Jackson's nomination from the relentless attacks, but instead allowed them to linger.
During her hearings, Republican Senators. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and Josh Hawley, both from Missouri, blasted Jackson over a few cases she had as a judge. They asked if Jackson regretted having a record that was soft on child pornography defendants.
Jackson repeatedly stated that child pornography cases were among the most difficult of her career. However, no matter how many times Jackson tried to explain the details of the law or why they were so, the GOP senators just talked over Jackson and passed her.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (Republican from Tennessee) asked, "I can only wonder where your hidden agenda is," pointing to an earlier piece by the judge. Is it to allow violent criminals, cop killers, and child predators to return to the streets?" ... Do you have a personal agenda to integrate critical race theory into the legal system?
The senators maintained that their questions weren't about race. Graham warned that questioners could be called racists. "If we ask difficult questions, we're all racists." This is not going to work for us."
Republicans ignore analysis showing Jackson's sentencing record in such cases is comparable to other judges appointed by Democrats and Republican presidents. In some cases, she even went above recommendations to make it harder on defendants.
Jackson said that the only thing that he regretted was spending so much time focusing on a small portion of my sentences during the hearing regarding my qualifications to serve as a Supreme Court justice.
Jackson's supporters feel that the Republicans' cherry-picking her record has tarnished an historic occasion.
Nina Turner, an ex-Ohio state senator and a prominent surrogate to Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2020 Democratic Presidential Campaign, criticised Democratic members of the committee for failing to defend Jackson more strongly.
Turner said to the AP that Turner did not believe she should have to endure what she had to. "The Democratic senators ought to have used their power and position to express the necessary outrage for this moment."
Jackson was the judge in 14 cases of child sexual assault, interstate child sexual abuse and child pornography during her tenure on the bench.
According to the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, Jackson was the highest-rated judge according to its survey of 250 lawyers, judges and academics.
Jean Veta, a member of the ABA committee stated that "they unanimously rejected any accusation of bias."
Fred Bowman, a former federal prosecutor and University of Missouri law professor, wrote to the Senate committee expressing his disappointment at the notion that Jackson was somehow "soft". Other experts in the field signed his letter.
Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, blasted the Republican line for questioning as "embarrassing conspiracies theory" that has been "conclusively disproved by fact check after factcheck."
Jackson was unable to convince the Republican senators alone as she tried to explain to them the rules that judges follow and the details of the difficult cases they are faced with. The GOP senators did not always accept the answers of the judge and often interjected or ignored them completely.
Jackson stopped answering at one point. Cruz asked her if she was sure. A judge's entire record cannot be recited from one case.
As the hearings ended on Thursday, Republican leaders in Senate used the issue and her refusal of repeating earlier answers to justify their opposition to her confirmation.
Many of the committee rooms were filled with Black women during the four days of testimony. Among those women were some of the most prominent civil rights figures as well as members of Congress Black Caucus. This group ran its own "warroom" to support Jackson's nomination.
LaTosha Brown, cofounder and leader of Black Voters Matter, stated that she received many text messages from Black women outraged at Jackson's treatment by senators, but also encouraged by her determination to persevere the process.
"I just received texts that said "Persevere."
It was a reference Jackson’s own advicegiven at the hearing to young people, who might have seen the nominee suffer and felt discouraged.
Brown stated that "Black Americans in America" knew what the word meant if they didn't know any other.