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We’re continuing our series of letters penned to past, present, and future leaders who inspire us on all fronts. This one is dedicated to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, written by Keys Soulcare editor Tiffany Davis shortly after the judge’s passing.
“I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Dear Justice Ginsburg,
As a woman and a person living in this world, the word “gratitude” has at times felt like a path to happiness, and at others, a condition of circumstance. The circumstances being, but not limited to: gender, marital status, agency, inclusion, race, luck. And the list goes on.
You embodied — and transcended — so many of these, with well-documented precision, grit, and grace. And so, while I join many others in gratitude for your life’s work (including my rights to own property and build credit without permission from my father or husband), it’s the depth and doggedness of your character that brought me to tears at the news of your passing.
You graduated at the top of your Harvard Law class, only to be denied every single job with which you could put your degree to practice. You said that having to teach and work for the ACLU was a “gift of time to the movement” of equaling rights between men and women. All this, in the wake of co-parenting a household with a partner battling cancer and then eventually making partner at a law firm himself.
You battled five bouts of cancer, only to return to the bench in full force with every victory. Your best-selling biography (slash moniker), The Notorious RBG, Instagram-breaking SUPER DIVA sweatshirt, and award-winning 2018 bio-documentary, RBG inspired modern generations to dig a little deeper, investigate your then-living legacy, and own a piece of furthering it. As this recent Bustle article so keenly-articulates: your pop culture power was a product of your confidence making unpopular choices, rather than the other way around.
What has been most resonant for me, as a person navigating parallel paths of career, motherhood, partnership, and selfhood, is that you lived so fully. From letters exchanged within your “marriage of equals” to Martin, your partner of 56-years, to noting that the best partnerships involve turn-taking and sometimes “being a little deaf” in service of the greater good, you courted life, love, and joy at so many turns.
As I write this thank you, I am listening to a radio broadcast of your funeral procession, where you are being laid to rest in state. As ever, your final wishes reflect a commitment to the nation that recognizes the equal humanity of all humans — and a faith in our nation to find its way there.
I am not so sure that this is the current case. But I’m reminded of your statement regarding the dissenter’s hope, as “not writing for today, but for tomorrow.”
And so, today and forever, I am grateful.