This wise and affecting memoir is the inside story of the great efforts leading up to the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the fight to implement it-and its implications for affirmative action and black poverty today.
A black woman who moved in the corridors of power in the middle of this century, Constance Baker Motley has been a pioneer in both black civil rights and women's rights. As the key attorney assisting Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, she argued a dozen cases before the Supreme Court (winning all but one), and her representation of James Meredith in his bid to enroll in the University of Mississippi made her famous. Subsequently, as Manhattan borough president and a U.S. district court judge, she has fulfilled the highest aspirations of our legal and political system. This book, the most detailed account to date of the legal conflicts of the civil rights movement, is also an account of Motley's struggle, as a black woman, to succeed, a record of a life lived with great courage and responsibility.
40 Black-and-White Photographs
Motley has a remarkable rsumchief judge of the New York Southern Federal District Court, and the first black female Manhattan Borough president and New York State senator. More remarkable was her 20-year service as civil rights lawyer alongside the legendary Thurgood Marshall as a member of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund. Key cases helped desegregate public schools and state universities, including the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954. One of 12 children from a relatively poor New Haven family, Motley studied at Nashville's all-black Fisk University then at Columbia Law School. Her account of the early legal work that helped lay the foundations of the civil rights movement makes interesting reading despite excessive detail at times. In contrast, she writes frankly about Marshall's temper, her disdain for certain judges appointed by President Kennedy, tensions with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy after opposing his political wishes in New York politics and slights by the white legal establishment in New York City. Even more important are Motley's reflections on what's happening today to the principles around which she dedicated her career. She is critical of the current Supreme Court's stance on affirmative action and does not hide her contempt for Justice Clarence Thomas. She argues eloquently for government vigilance in monitoring the unfinished struggle against racial discrimination. Photos. Movie rights to Marcia Paul, Kay, Collyer and Boose. (July)