2005_09_motley.jpgThere's an obituary for Judge Constance Baker Motley in the NY Times today. Motley died at age 84, and she truly led an amazing life. Not only was she a dynamic figure in the civil rights movement and the first black woman to be appointed a federal judge (by LBJ in 1966), she was the first black, female NY State Senator in 1964 and was the first female - and first black - Manhattan Borough President, elected to a one-year term in 1965, later "re-elected to a full four-year term with the endorsement of the Democratic, Republican and Liberal Parties." Motley also worked as a lawyer for the NAACP (as a clerk to Thurgood Marshall) and won nine out of ten cases she argued in front of the Supreme Court. An interview with Columbia Magazine (she graduated from Columbia Law in 1946) described her local influence:

Her varied cases have included a ruling that female reporters could enter locker rooms at Yankee Stadium during the World Series, the challenge of an adult entertainment establishment to Times Square urban renewal (“I said they couldn’t get rid of Show World, so it’s still there”), and the right of gay protestors to march in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (“I said they could because the City owns the sidewalk, not the church”).

Motley also graduated from NYU as an undergraduate. Smith College has Motley's papers, with a few represented online, mostly from her career in the mid-60s.