Sen. Cory Booker's powerful address to Ketanji Brown Jackson calling her "a harbinger of hope" amid hours of grueling questioning had the Supreme Court nominee wiping away tears on Wednesday.
The Democrat from New Jersey, who is one of only three Black senators and the only Black member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, used the 20-minute period normally reserved for questions to instead reflect on the significance Jackson's nomination.
Jackson, 51, would become the first Black women to ever serve on the Supreme Court if she is confirmed. Wednesday marked her third day answering hours of questions from senators on the Judiciary Committee.
“You have earned this spot,” Booker said. “You are worthy. You are a great American.”
Booker, 52, complimented her "grit and grace" and "extraordinary demeanor" in the face of difficult questioning from his Republican colleagues. She faces a fourth and final day of questioning on Thursday before her nomination will be discussed by the Judiciary Committee on March 28.
“You faced insults here that were shocking to me — well, actually not shocking,” Booker told her. “But you are here because of that kind of love, and nobody is taking this away from me.”
He also wanted Jackson to know she was not selected for a spot on the nation's highest court strictly because she would make history.
"I want to tell you when I look at you, this is why I get emotional,” he said. “I’m sorry — you’re a person that is so much more than your race and gender. You’re a Christian, you’re a mom, you’re an intellect, you love books.
“It’s hard for me not to look at you and not see my mom," he continued. "Not to see my cousins, one of them who had to come here and sit behind you. She had to have your back. I see my ancestors and yours."
The former mayor of Newark shared how after he became the ninth Black senator in U.S. history in 2013, he would get hugs and thanks from Black members of the cleaning staff at the U.S. Capitol for what his election meant to them.
He also remarked about how one of his biggest heroes is American icon Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist and runaway slave who returned to danger to bring other slaves to freedom. She would often gaze at the night sky, looking for a star as a symbol of hope.
"I thought about her. And how she looked up, she kept looking up," he said. "No matter what they did to her, she never stopped looking up. And that star was a harbinger of hope.
"Today, you’re my star. You are my harbinger of hope. This country is getting better and better and better. And when that final vote happens, and you ascend to the highest court in the land, I’m going to rejoice. And I’m going to tell you right now, the greatest country in the world, the United States of America, will be better because of you."