Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina U.S. Supreme Court justice. She spoke to TFK’s Kio Herrera about her childhood, her career, and her new book.
I wanted to make my story accessible to kids. I wanted to tell them the story of what helped me achieve what I have in life. With this book, kids can understand my life through words and pictures.
When you’re unhappy or sad, like I was after my father died, you need a quiet place. You need a place where you feel safe. Libraries gave me that. They gave me a way to escape to places I never thought I could go.
All of us experience feeling different. America was made by people who came from different lands. By keeping hold of your own culture, you realize what strengths you bring to this country and how they make America richer.
I understand being the first Latina Supreme Court justice is not just about me. It’s about my family and friends, the teachers and librarians who helped me grow up. I am an example of where you can go if you try hard. But I’m also an example of how much more you can achieve if you accept help from those who love you.
Kids should remember that it is always within their power to be nice to someone. They can offer their time to help those in their community. Start with the little things, like getting to know the people who serve your neighborhood. That’s what will make this a better world.
When people can’t agree among themselves, they come to lawyers and courts to ask for help. If you have a passion for helping people and you take the time to study hard—those things will help you become a lawyer.
I hope they come away with the knowledge that it doesn’t matter where you start off in life. Through education and hard work, you can become almost anything you want. Hope is the ingredient that keeps us going. It’s my wish that through learning and reading, kids understand that they should always have reason to hope.
If people remember me as being aware of how the law affected people’s lives, I will have been successful. The law affects people’s lives so profoundly. Judges can’t make law, but it is important to be sensitive to how it impacts people. The ability to say “I understand” really helps how we communicate with each other.