Menendez Rallies Hillside for Historic Supreme Court Nominee

HILLSIDE – History means something – especially when it impacts current events.

Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated 54 years ago tonight while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis.

King’s death, his memory and his legacy were cited today during a rally at the First Baptist Church headed by Sen. Robert Menendez in support of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first African American woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. The senator was joined by local elected leaders and activists.

Christopher Jones, the church pastor, said Jackson’s nomination continues the march to justice that King launched during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.

In a speech that unsurprisingly sounded more like a sermon, Jones spoke of the path from King to Jackson as God’s work.

Dahlia Vertreese, the city’s mayor, said if women in general have had it tough advancing in the past, black women have had it worse. And that’s why Jackson’s ascension to the nation’s highest court is so important.

Menendez had some history to impart as well. He reminded the crowd that his first vote for a justice was for Sonia Sotomayor, who in 2009 became the first Hispanic woman on the court.

Like others, Menendez spoke of earlier generations of people who could not have imagined the racial and ethnic progress we are seeing today. For example, it was pointed out that Jackson’s parents attended segregated high schools and historically black colleges – institutions formed because blacks were not permitted to attend traditional universities.

He said Jackson’s nomination is one of those events that “make our ancestors’ wildest dreams come true.”

Menendez, himself, is no stranger to racial and ethnic advancement. The son of Cuban immigrants, his political career began in Union City in 1974 when the city’s political power structure was mostly white.

Jackson has not yet been confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. That is expected to happen later this week, although the vote will be close. The Senate is 50-50 but Vice President Harris can break any tie. Additionally, Republican Susan Collins of Maine has said she’ll support Jackson, making a tie vote unlikely.

Menendez probably had all that in mind when he said: “This is a good week for our country.”

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