Constance Baker Motley

A civil rights activist, lawyer, state senator, and judge, Constance Baker Motley received an A.B. in economics from NYU in 1943. After receiving a law degree from Columbia University, Motley worked under the tutelage of Thurgood Marshall, chief counsel of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and eventually became associate chief counsel for the association. She aided in several key civil rights cases, including Brown v. Board of Education. In the early 1960s Motley continued her fight for equality, arguing ten civil rights cases on the floor of the U.S. Supreme Court. She won nine. In 1964, she left the NAACP to become the first African-American woman state senator in New York. She served in this capacity until the winter of 1965, when the New York City Council elected her the first woman to serve as President of the Borough of Manhattan. The following year, President Lyndon Johnson nominated Motley for a Federal District Court judgeship for the Southern District of New York. Confirmed in August of 1966, Motley became the first African-American woman named to the federal bench.

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