Constance Baker Motley

Constance Baker Motley (1921-2005)

Lawyer, activist, and the first Black woman to become a federal judge.

Quote: “There appears to be no limit as to how far the women’s revolution will take us.”



  • Constance Baker Motley was born September 14, 1921 and was the ninth of 12 children.
  • Motley attended New Haven’s integrated public schools where she became an avid reader.
  • Inspired by books of civil rights heroes, at age 15 she decided to become a lawyer.
  • Constance began her college career at Fisk University before transferring to New York University. In 1944, she became the first black woman to be accepted into Columbia Law School.
  • Motley played a major role in the 1954 Brown vs Board of Education case and was the first black woman to argue a case before the United Stated Supreme Court.
  • In 1964, Motley was the first woman to be elected into the New York State Senate and the first woman to become the Manhattan Borough President in 1965. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her to the United States District Court, making her the first African American woman to become a Federal Judge.
  • Judge Constance Baker Motley passed in 2005.

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