Motley, Constance Baker, 1921-2005


Constance Baker Motley (14 September 1921-28 September 2005) was an African American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, and state senator. She was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the ninth of twelve children. Her parents had immigrated from Nevis, in the Caribbean; her mother was the founder of the New Haven chapter of the NAACP. With financial help from a local philanthropist, Clarence Blakeslee, she initially attended Fisk University, a historically black college in Tennessee, before deciding to move to an integrated university. Motley graduated from New York University in 1943 and then received her law degree from Columbia Law School in 1946. Her legal career began as a law clerk in the fledgling NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), where she worked with Thurgood Marshall, Jack Greenberg, and others. The LDF's first female attorney, she became Associate Counsel to the LDF, making her the NAACP's lead trial attorney.

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