Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell Superintendent

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Dear Oakland Unified Community,

I hope you had a peaceful spring break that allowed you time to relax and recharge, and time to spend with loved ones. For my family and me, it was great to reconnect away from the pressures of work.

During the break, something momentous happened on the other side of the country. For the first time in the history of our nation, we will have a Black woman sitting on the United States Supreme Court. I was moved as I watched the U.S. Senate confirm President Biden’s nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the first Black woman on the highest court in the land. Once she takes the bench after the retirement this summer of Justice Stephen Breyer, Jackson will help the court make several other firsts:

  • First Supreme Court with at least two Black Justices
  • First Supreme Court with at least four women
  • First Supreme Court with White men being in the minority

Jackson will also be the first Justice to have ever previously served as a Public Defender. I know she will bring many important perspectives to the high court, helping it better interpret the laws of our country.

This is amazing and historic. And what will make it even more powerful is seeing someone who looks like me, who looks like many of our students and staff, serve as a Supreme Court Justice. Despite challenges our country continues to face, in recent years, we have seen amazing progress unfold: A Black soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is Black and Indian (and from Oakland and Berkeley!), the first woman and woman of color to hold that office. And of course, they both follow Nancy Pelosi, the nation’s first woman to serve as Speaker of the House, and Barack Obama, the first African American President.

Judge Jackson’s impending ascension to the Supreme Court has inspired students and staff across our District, including Piedmont Avenue Elementary 5th grader Ziah Smith, who is an active participant in the District’s African American Female Excellence initiative. She said it’s “a really cool and amazing opportunity. She will make good judgments for the sake of all people.”

It is important to remember that even when the rights and opportunities of too many of the people who live in this country are being constrained and limited, there are also incredible stories of success. This week, now that we have returned to school, let us look each other and our students in the eyes and celebrate this incredible moment in history.

I look forward to Ketanji Brown Jackson joining the Supreme Court, and hearing her wisdom as she helps shape the course of our nation’s laws.

In community,

Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell

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