LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Thursday marked a pivotal moment in our nation’s history after Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to become the first Black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Representation really matters. So, to see a Black woman who is so well educated, it really was a prideful moment to see her coming to a more public stage,” said Western Michigan University Cooley Law School student Frances Silney-Bah.

Silney-Bah has dreamed of becoming a lawyer since she was a child. 

“When I went to college, I sort of gave up on that dream because I had some personal challenges,” she explained. 

Then came the pandemic and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

“I was living in Houston, Texas, at the time, and I participated in the protests. That was when I really had this lightbulb moment and realized I can really make a difference for people who have been traditionally marginalized in our nation. So, I decided to start studying for the LSAT and go to law school.”

She’s now in her second term of law school, with a goal of pursuing restorative justice in the future. 

“So restorative justice really focuses on addressing harmful behavior and finding ways to prevent it from happening. It’s about strengthening our public schools, providing health care, providing housing to people so we can stop the harmful behavior.”

The moment Silney-Bah learned Jackson was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court is one she described as being full of pride and joy. But she knows the path to success doesn’t come easy — especially for people of color.

“I think it just goes to show that there is going to be a lot of resistance to these trailblazers, and in spite of that resistance, you still have to show up and be your true, authentic self and be honest about the injustice that you see and shine a light on it, and really be willing to face that resistance in a respectful way. I think it shows that we should not give up.”

She added that having Jackson’s voice on the court will bring a level of fairness and a different perspective to the court that the nation hasn’t yet seen. 

“It’s kind of tipped a little unfair sometimes. I think having her voice on the court is going to be really vital to balancing the scales of justice,” said Silney-Bah.

Black women continue to be one of the most underrepresented groups in the legal profession, and Jackson’s appointment to the high court is one that Silney-Bah describes as inspiring. Still, she also knows success doesn’t come easy, especially for women of color.

“It’s about open-mindedness and welcoming something different. It’s OK that a Black woman can become an Associate Supreme Court Justice. That shouldn’t be wrong, and that shouldn’t be bad. I just really hope those people will be open-minded and just listen and be willing to learn.”

And whether in law school or not, she believes this moment will inspire others to become trailblazers themselves.

“It really inspires me to take up space, to speak my truth and not be afraid to have certain convictions,” Silney-Bah said. “This is a really important moment, and Black girls and boys around the country are seeing her now and seeing this moment, and it’s going to inspire them to move forward as well and see how they can give back to their community and their family and represent something really special.”