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Site of the Month Constance Baker Motley House
8 Garden Street, New Haven, CT 06511

Constance Baker Motley (1921-2005) was a trailblazing lawyer in the forefront of many major civil rights cases throughout the mid-20th century. After graduating from Columbia Law School in 1946, Motley was hired by Thurgood Marshall to work as a law clerk for the NAACP. In 1950, Motley wrote the draft complaint for the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which ended segregation in schools. Over the following decade, she successfully argued numerous other civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first African American woman to do so. In 1964, Motley was the first woman elected to the New York State Senate and, in 1965, the first woman to become president of the Borough of Manhattan. In addition to her accomplishments as an attorney, Motley was the first African American woman to be appointed a federal judge of the United States, in 1966. She became a chief judge in 1982 and served the Southern District of New York as a senior judge for the rest of her life. Motley made outstanding strides in the movement for social justice and equality during the 20th century and, in 1998, she was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. Motley’s childhood home is privately owned and not open to the public.


  • Photo of Constance Baker Motley by Chester Higgins


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