U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks at Southwest DC’s Arena Stage while accepting the American Voice Award. Courtesy of Arena Stage

By Southwester Staff

Southwest DC’s Arena Stage presented their American Voice Award to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson earlier this year, as part of the opening night celebration for the world premiere of its play Tempestuous Elements

Established in 2005, the American Voice Award honors public officials recognized for their extraordinary support of and advocacy for American arts and arts education. According to Arena Stage, Justice Jackson has repeatedly demonstrated her dedication to fighting for human and civil rights and her deep commitment to equal justice. She is both the first Black woman and the first former federal public defender to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Jackson also has a unique connection to theater, having participated in student productions and an improv group throughout her career at Harvard. 

The award was presented by Arena Stage Artistic Director Hana S. Sharif at a pre-performance dinner. 

“It is a distinct privilege to present this award to Justice Jackson on the opening night of Tempestuous Elements, a play that reflects on the life and legacy of another arts advocate, educational luminary Anna Julia Cooper,” said Sharif in her remarks. “Justice Jackson stands in the magnificent tradition of Anna Julia Cooper as a trailblazing leader, undaunted by inequity and galvanized by her work in service of liberation and Justice for all people. This is emblematic of the spirit of the American Voice Award. I am honored to stand in the company of all of you this evening to present Justice Jackson with this award.”

American Voice Award recipients previously honored by Arena Stage include Representative Judy Chu (D-CA), Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the late Representative John Lewis (D-GA), and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), among others.

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