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How a High School Debate Team Shaped Ketanji Brown Jackson

A Ground for Success

February 26, 2022 (The New York Times) – Let Miami Palmetto Senior High School brag for a moment: It has a swoon-worthy alumni roster. The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, class of ’82. Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the United States surgeon general, class of ’94. And Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court, class of ’88.

Decades have passed since Judge Jackson, 51, was a stellar student at Palmetto, a large public school nestled among the palm trees of the South Florida suburbs. But the school held outsize importance in her life, thanks to a competitive speech and debate team led by a famed coach who molded her protégés into sharp-tongued speakers and quick critical thinkers.

“That was an experience that I can say without hesitation was the one activity that best prepared me for future success in law and in life,” Judge Jackson said at a lecture in 2017.

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