Keep reaching for the top

Dianne Williams-Cox

As I watched the Senate vote for the first Black female Supreme Court Justice, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, my level of anxiety was high. I prayed that after she had been grilled so harshly publicly by some who did not embrace this historic moment, that she would successfully reach the top.  My prayers were answered, and the future Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was selected to join the Supreme Court for life at age 51.

Her journey to the Supreme Court parallels the journey that many women of every color have taken but it is Black women who have had to travel furthest. We are taught to keep our heads down and get the work done. We are taught that we need more education, more experience, more credentials…just to be considered. So many times, we have done all of these things and still came up short. 

In Tallahassee, in almost 200 years, only two Black females have been elected to the City Commission.  I thank all the women who served before me on the City Commission and for leaving the door open for me. Like you, I am doing my best to meet the moment before me, while looking to the future regardless of the obstacles of the day. 

In my opinion, the reason there are so few of us in these positions is because it is very hard to persuade many that we are qualified to do the work, if given the chance. We will do the work even when it tugs at the heart as decisions have to be made with meager resources to take high stake risks, believing the returns will benefit the people you serve.  

However, if you have been given this charge laced with the love of helping others succeed and to see your communities grow and flourish, you do it anyway. 

Sometimes you lose folks who once supported you and you gain those who once did not. In the words of Senator Cory Booker, “… I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat.” I translate his meaning to be, it was hard getting to the seat and it is hard sitting in the seat. Yet, in the words of the woman who encouraged Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson all those years ago, we must persevere, and I add, Stay Woke!

Like Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, I am not deterred. It is my hope that more females are encouraged to climb to the top, continue to break glass ceilings, leave the door wide open and extend a hand to help the next woman reach the top.

Dianne Williams-Cox is a member of the Tallahassee City Commission 

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