African American women have been part of the American Landscape since the founding of our country and probably before. In 1776 the year the declaration of independence was written Phyllis Wheatley wrote the following to George Washington:
To His Excellency
I have taken the freedom to address your Excellency in the enclosed poem, and entreat your acceptance, though I am not insensible of its inaccuracies. Your being appointed by the Grand Continental Congress to be Generalissimo of the armies of North America, together with the fame of your virtues, excite sensations not easy to suppress. Your generosity, therefore, I presume, will pardon the attempt. Wishing your Excellency all possible success in the great cause you are so generously engaged in. I am,
Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servant,
George Washington Wrote back the following:
George Washington’s Reply
Cambridge, February 28, 1776.
Your favour of the 26th of October did not reach my hands ’till the middle of December. Time enough, you will say, to have given an answer ere this. Granted. But a variety of important occurrences, continually interposing to distract the mind and withdraw the attention, I hope will apologize for the delay, and plead my excuse for the seeming, but not real neglect.
I thank you most sincerely for your polite notice of me, in the elegant Lines you enclosed; and however undeserving I may be of such encomium and panegyrick, the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your great poetical Talents. In honour of which, and as a tribute justly due to you, I would have published the Poem, had I not been apprehensive, that, while I only meant to give the World this new instance of your genius, I might have incurred the imputation of Vanity. This and nothing else, determined me not to give it place in the public Prints.
If you should ever come to Cambridge, or near Head Quarters, I shall be happy to see a person so favoured by the Muses, and to whom Nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations.
I am, with great Respect, etc.
African American women have been nursemaids, housekeepers, teachers, companions, and concubines to slaveowners and their families since the founding of the United States and when some men and women became fed up with the peculiar institution of slavery an African American woman by the name of Harriet Tubman led the wanting and the willing to freedom.
In the year of 2009 it seems strange that with the women’s movement, the immigrant migration, the gay movement, the abortion activists and all other special interests groups that no one is seriously writing about a black justice to the supreme court. Black women are being asked to go the back of the line behind the supplemental interests groups. The same black women who some depend on for their votes are being asked to not only go to the back of the line but to not even attempt to get in the line. Personally I do not know what President Obama thinks of the issue. I do know that this is the first time in sixteen years that a black women has not held a presidential cabinet position which considering that black woman are one of the interests groups that determine a presidential election this is disgraceful.
I do not know what Mr. Obama thinks about at night or even how he thinks of black women. I know that after a dog incident with my neighbors who were an interracial couple the black man of the couple preceded to call me epithets that you could not even imagine whore, bitch, you get the picture and then as my family listened a little closer we heard the white woman of the couple telling him what to say to me. What was so contradictory is he probably believed these words because one morning as I walked my daughter to her 5:30 am bus one day he propositioned me for sex and my son witnessed this from his bedroom window as it happened. As the relationship progressed between our neighbor and this family it ended with the white woman sending her five daughters over to our house daily for us to watch prior to their moving I felt like an aunt Jemima nursemaid. I do not know what messages they sent to their children about black women. Since Obama is a product of a white woman and a black man and raised by a white woman, his grandmother who he openly admits was afraid of black men one wonders what messages his parents and grandparents sent to him about black women. The messages he perceived and received were definitely different than those of the last democratic President Bill Clinton who appointed black women to his cabinet or those of the last President George Bush who did diversity well and gave a black woman the position of Secretary of State and still managed to satisfy all of the various ethnic groups jockeying for a voice. It’s sad to say but our first African American President seems to prefer white women and white men as his power team and this is just not what the U.S. has been about in the last sixteen years. The Obama administration looks like a post Bush Republican Administration all White and though his color is black its pretty obvious he identifies himself as white.
So while I can not read President Obama’s mind I can read his actions towards black women supported by the media hype and illusion. There are articles written about the Obama black women when the honest truth is their is not one single black women in the Obama cabinet. It is also pretty ironic that a black woman former appointed labor Secretary under Bill Clinton manuevered and hee hawed to deprive Hillary Clinton out of votes just so a black man could become president and women of Herman’s race are repaid with not one appointment to the Obama cabinet. This is pretty peculiar.
At this point black women and others who love black women are praying and hoping for a black female supreme court nominee. At times people are so fond of saying that there are no qualified black women for various things this is why we are relegated to various professions or some can’t even grow but I’m here to tell you there are some amazing black jurists out there who are qualified to be supreme court justices.
Leah Ward Sears – She is first on the list because she possess the requisite youth. She also has the depth and the breadth to be a supreme court justice based on her administrative experience. Her biography is as follows from wikipedia:
Leah Ward Sears
(born June 13, 1955) is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. state of Georgia. She is also Chair of the Judicial Council of Georgia, the $200 million agency in charge of the state judicial system. When sworn in on June 28, 2005, Sears became the first African-American female Chief Justice in the United States. When she was first appointed as justice in 1992 by then Governor Zell Miller, she became the first woman and youngest person to sit on the Supreme Court of Georgia.
Judith Rogers is right in the mix but she’s in her seventies. I have heard that Presidents look for nominees in their fifties so they can have possibly thirty years of judicial sway. While her age may not be a deterrent to Obama if it’s not she is definitely the jurists most familiar with isssues before the high court and issues that the United States is currently facing. She has ruled on issues on GITMO and disabilities that have had far reaching consequences and effects. Judith Rogers also holds the seat vacated by Clarence Thomas upon his nomination to the Supreme Court.
Here is her biography taken fromt the court of appeals website: Judge Rogers was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals in March 1994. She had previously served on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals since 1983, becoming Chief Judge in 1988. Following her graduation from Radcliffe College and Harvard Law School, she served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia and subsequently at the Justice Department in the Deputy Attorney General’s Office and the Criminal Division. Then, after serving as General Counsel to the congressional commission on the organization of the District of Columbia, she worked for the Mayor of the District of Columbia on congressional and local legislation. She became the Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia in 1979 and served until her appointment to the bench in 1983. In 1988, Judge Rogers received a Master of Laws degree from the University of Virginia Law School.
Margaret A. Burnham
In 1993, President Nelson Mandela appointed Ms. Burnham to serve on an international human rights commission to investigate alleged human rights violations within the African National Congress. Conf. Wrongful Convictions a call to action She established theCivil Rights and Restorative Justice project at Northeeastern University which examines the failure of law enforcement and other governement agencies refusal or inability to enforce the law during the civil right movement. The partial biography is a s follows and can be found at the Conference on Wrongful convictions site
Ms. Burnham’s practice is limited to civil rights and employment litigation. She has served on several professional boards including the Council of the Boston Bar association, the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Individual Rights & Responsibility Committee.
A former fellow of the Bunting Institute at Racliffe College and Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Studies, Ms. Burnham has written extensively on contemporary legal and political issues, including human rights, criminal justice, race and the law. She is currently a lecturer in the Political Science Department of MIT.
Patricia J. Williams
Biography taken from Columbia University Falculty Profile
B.A., Wellesley, 1972; J.D., Harvard, 1975. Practiced as deputy city attorney, Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney; and as staff lawyer, Western Center on Law and Poverty. Has served on the faculties of the University of Wisconsin School of Law, City University of New York Law School, and Golden Gate University School of Law. Has been at Columbia since 1991. Fellow, at the School of Criticism and Theory, Dartmouth College, and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.
Has published widely in the areas of race, gender, and law, and on other issues of legal theory and legal writing. Books include The Alchemy of Race and Rights; The Rooster’s Egg; and Seeing a ColorBlind Future: The Paradox of Race. Columnist, The Nation. MacArthur fellow. Board of Trustees, Wellesley College.
Kimberle W. Crenshaw
Kimberlé Crenshaw teaches Civil Rights and other courses in critical race studies and constitutional law. Her primary scholarly interests center around race and the law, and she was a founder and has been a leader in the intellectual movement called Critical Race Theory. She was elected Professor of the Year by the 1991 and 1994 graduating classes. She now splits her time each year between UCLA and the Columbia School of Law.
At the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she received her LL.M., Professor Crenshaw was a William H. Hastie Fellow. She then clerked for Justice Shirley Abrahamson of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Professor Crenshaw’s publications include Critical Race Theory (edited by Crenshaw, et al., 1995) and Words that Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech and the First Amendment (with Matsuda, et al., 1993).
In 2007, Professor Crenshaw was nominated the Fulbright Chair for Latin America in Brazil. In 2008, she was nominated an Alphonse Fletcher Fellow. In the same year she joined the selective group of scholars awarded with an in-residence fellowship at the Center of Advanced Behavioral Studies at Stanford.