Constance Baker Motley

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Motley, Constance Baker

(1921–  ) lawyer, judge; born in New Haven, Conn. While a student at Columbia University (LL.B. 1946), she clerked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's legal defense and education fund, for which she worked full time (1946–65). While there, she successfully argued nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including those of James Meredith and Autherine Lucy. In 1964 she became the first African-American woman to be elected to the New York state senate; she became president of Manhattan Borough (1965–66). In 1966 she became the first black woman federal judge when President Lyndon Johnson appointed her to the U.S. District Court for the southern District of New York. From 1982–86 she served as chief judge, until becoming senior judge in 1986.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
To prepare for an expected legal fight, Meredith wrote to Thurgnod Marshall of the Legal Defense Fund asking for assistance and stating, "My long preserved ambition has been to break the monopoly on rights and privileges held by the Whites of the State of Mississippi." (5) Attorney Constance Motley was assigned to represent Meredith, and in May 1961, she filed suit against the University of Mississippi in the United States District Court alleging that Meredith's admission had been denied on the basis of race.