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  • Michelle Smith

Amazing Melanated Mommies: 22

Updated: Apr 18, 2019

While African American history is too extraordinary to be summed up in a year, let alone a month, we will be celebrating phenomenal women who changed the world as we see it now all while raising children. If they can do it, so can we. Lets do it!!!

Constance Baker Motley was a civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator, and Borough President of Manhattan, New York City. She was the first African American woman appointed to the federal judiciary, serving as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Baker was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to immigrant parents from the Caribbean Island of Navis, Rachel Huggins and McCullough Alva Baker. Growing up, she attended integrated public schools but also succumbed to her fair share of racism. By the time Baker reached high school she had already cultivated a sense of racial awareness, sparking her interest to get involved with civil rights. In 1946 Baker married Joel Motely Jr. and later had a son. Also graduating from Columbia's Law School in 1946, she was hired by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund as a civil rights lawyer. As the fund's first female attorney, Motley became a lead trial attorney in a number of early and significant civil rights cases. Constance visited churches that were fire bombed, sang freedom songs, and visited Rev. Martin Luther King while he sat in jail, as well as spending a night with civil rights activist Medgar Evers under armed guard. In 1950 she wrote the original complaint in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. The first African American woman ever to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, in Meredith v. Fair Motley won James Meredith's effort to be the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi in 1962. In 1966 she became the first African American female federal judge. Salute Mrs. Constance Baker Motley.

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