The court’s first Hispanic justice grew up in a housing project, where she lived with her younger brother and her mother, a nurse. She was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 7, and she started the book with a chapter about learning at that age how to give herself insulin shots.
She said she wanted people who read the memoir to think, “Yes, she’s an ordinary person like me, and if that person can do it, so can I.”
Eschewing the podium, Sotomayor walked through the crowd. She said she learned a lot about her family while researching the book, including details of the love story between her mother and her father, who suffered from alcoholism and died when Sotomayor was 9 years old. She urged people to take the time to talk to their relatives about family history.
“Don’t wait until they are not here any longer,” she said.
On this, her first visit to Texas, she read her favorite passage from the book to the crowd at The Wortham Center:
“When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become — whether lawyer, scientist, artist, or leader in any realm — her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however, inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than an inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, ‘Yes, someone like me can do this.’ ”
After Sotomayor’s nearly hour-long discussion of the book, she fielded some questions about the Supreme Court from Randall Morton, president of The Progressive Forum, a Houston speakers’ organization.
Sotomayor told the crowd they wouldn’t want her job.
“We spend most of our day reading. We then research, then we write, and then we edit,” she says, noting that the oral arguments are a microcosm of the work that goes into an opinion.
While the justices disagree on legal issues, she says they do get along. “In person, we treat each other with respect and love,” she says. A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, she joined the court in 2009.
Ticketholders at the event received a copy of “My Beloved World” and Sotomayor told the crowd she would stay and sign all books.
— Brenda Sapino Jeffreys