(Bloomberg) -- Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who last year became the first Black woman on the US Supreme Court, said the country must confront “uncomfortable lessons” from its long history of racial violence and discrimination.

“If we’re going to continue to move forward as a nation, we cannot allow concerns about discomfort to displace knowledge, truth or history,” Jackson said at a memorial service commemorating four Black girls killed in a 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. “We cannot forget because the uncomfortable lessons are often the ones that teach us the most about ourselves.”

Jackson’s remarks come amid debate over how schools teach children about US history, including the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. Florida has been a particular flashpoint, with Governor Ron DeSantis defending new standards that limit how teachers can talk about racism.

The bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church by Ku Klux Klan members was one of the nation’s notorious acts of racist violence. It fueled outrage that helped lead to enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Jackson suggested the country is still dealing with the type of violence, hatred and prejudice she said led to the bombing six decades ago.

“Can we really say that we are not confronting those same evils now?” she said. “We have to own even the darkest parts of our past, understand them and vow never to repeat them.”

Jackson in June issued a strongly worded dissent as the court abolished the use of race as a factor in university admissions. She wrote that the majority opinion ignored “the lengthy history of state-sponsored race-based preferences in America.” 

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