Constance Baker Motley

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Constance Baker Motley (New Haven, Conn., 1921 – New York City, 2005) was an African American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator, and President of the borough of Manhattan, New York City. She became the first black woman to serve in the New York State Senate (1964) and the first black woman appointed to the federal bench in 1966. [1] [2] Over fifty-plus years as a jurist, Constance Baker Motley has had a major impact on ending racial discrimination. [3]

Constance Baker Motley, as a young lawyer represented Martin Luther King Jr., and played a pivotal role in the nation’s civil rights struggle. [4]

Motley earned a degree in economics in 1943 from New York University, and in 1946 a law degree from Columbia Law School. She wrote “Equal Justice Under Law”.

Awards

  • Inducted into National Women's Hall of Fame, 1993.
  • The Florence E. Allen Award, given by the New York Women's Bar Association, 1995.
  • The Presidential Citizens Medal, 2001.

African American woman in court

Other outstanding African American woman appointed to the federal district court were Anna Diggs Taylor, appointed judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by President Jimmy Carter, 1979 [5], Ann Claire Williams, first African American woman appointed to the district court in Illinois and in the Seventh Circuit, [6] and Norma H. Johnson, first black woman to lead federal court in nation's capital. (named chief federal judge of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. [7]

See also

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