About Constance Baker Motley:
Constance Baker Motley was an African-American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator, and Borough President of Manhattan, New York City.
There is no longer a single common impediment to blacks emerging in this society.
The Constitution, as originally drawn, made no reference to the fact that all Americans wre considered equal members of society.
I remember being infuriated from the top of my head to the tip of my toes the first time a screen was put around Bob Carter and me on a train leaving Washington in the 1940s.
Columbia Law School men were being drafted, and suddenly women who had done well in college were considered acceptable candidates for the vacant seats.
I never thought I would live long enough to see the legal profession change to the extent it has.
We Americans entered a new phase in our history - the era of integration - in 1954.
The legal difference between the sit-ins and the Freedom Riders was significant.
When I was 15, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. No one thought this was a good idea.
I rejected the notion that my race or sex would bar my success in life.
Had it not been for James Meredith, who was willing to risk his life, the University of Mississippi would still be all white.
King consciously steered away from legal claims and instead relied on civil disobedience.
In high school, I discovered myself. I was interested in race relations and the legal profession. I read about Lincoln and that he believed the law to be the most difficult of professions.
I got the chance to argue my first case in Supreme Court, a criminal case arising in Alabama that involved the right of a defendant to counsel at a critical stage in a capital case before a trial.
When Thurgood Marshall became a lawyer, race relations in the United States were particularly bad.
We knew then what we know now; only exemplary blacks are acceptable.
We African Americans have now spent the major part of the 20th Century battling racism.
The fact is that racism, despite all the doomsayers, has diminished.
Sexism, like racism, goes with us into the next century. I see class warfare as overshadowing both.
New Orleans may well have been the most liberal Deep South city in 1954 because of its large Creole population, the influence of the French, and its cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Living at the YMCA in Harlem dramatically broadened my view of the world.