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Judge Constance Baker Motley

(1921-2005) Judge Constance Baker Motley was the first African American woman elected to the New York Senate, the first woman to be the Manhattan Borough President and the first African American woman appointed to serve as a federal district judge. Motley was born in 1921 in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1944, she became the first African American woman to be accepted to Columbia University Law School. From 1948 to 1964, she worked with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. During her career, she argued ten cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and served as the only woman on the legal team in Brown v. Board of Education. Motley was elected to the New York State Senate in 1964 and in 1966 was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In 1982 she attained chief judge status, becoming the first woman to do so.  Motley passed away in 2005 at the age of 84.

 

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