Photographer Who Captured Judge Jackson's Daughter Beaming Behind Her Says Viral Image 'Gave Me Chills'

“It’s just been this very proud yet overwhelming moment,” New York Times photography fellow Sarabeth Maney says

Ketanji Brown Jackson
Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

There was plenty of praise, probing questions and even controversy during this week's historic Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

But a New York Times photographer who covered the proceedings is reminiscing about one moment in particular — and the image she captured of it — that reflects the joy, hope and pride as the first Black woman to be nominated for the high court told her story and experience during 22 hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The photo is from Monday and shows Jackson out of focus in the foreground with her husband, Dr. Patrick Jackson, and their teenage daughter, Leila, beaming with admiration behind her.

"I just remember seeing Judge Jackson smiling a lot, and I think she was receiving compliments and praise. And then I noticed how proud her daughter was of her," Sarabeth Maney, 26, told her paper of glimpsing an opportunity to document a mother-daughter moment amid the formality of the first day of testimony.

"It gave me chills when I saw this look that her daughter gave her," Maney said.

The image is one of the most widely shared from four days of hearings, according to the Times.

"I did not expect it to gain that much traction," Maney, a photography fellow, told the paper. "I instantly posted it because I knew what I felt when I took the photo, and I really gravitated toward it."

Maney is the first Black photography fellow for the Times and said she was eager to cover Jackson's confirmation a month ago when President Joe Biden nominated the federal judge, keeping a campaign promise to select a Black woman for the Supreme Court.

It was important, Maney told the Times, "to provide the representation."

"On my average day, when I'm in the D.C. press pool, I am the only Black woman or Black photographer in general," she said. "And during these hearings, it was the first time in my career where I worked alongside more than one other Black photographer, which is major to be able to share that space with people who understand the Black experience."

When the image began to circulate on social media, Maney said she heard from a colleague who suggested she post it to her own account on Twitter, where users were sharing it without acknowledging her as the photographer.

"I had just got done with the long workday and I got a text from a Times reporter who was like, 'Hey, you need to tweet this photo out yourself because other people are like tweeting it and not crediting you,' " Maney said. "And I was kind of on the fence about whether to tweet it or not because it had already gained so much attention. But I just did it anyway. And then that tweet kept going on and on from there. So I'm really glad I decided to do it."

During a day off from covering the hearings on Thursday, Maney told the Times that being a part of a "roller coaster of events" this week has been wonderful.

"It's just been this very proud yet overwhelming moment, because I feel like I've worked so hard to get to where I am and to be recognized by so many people," she said. "It's just an incredible feeling, to put it simply."

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