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Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965$
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Davis W. Houck and David E. Dixon

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781604731071

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604731071.001.0001

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Constance Baker Motley

Constance Baker Motley

August 9, 1965, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Birmingham, Alabama

(p.307) Constance Baker Motley
Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965

Davis W. Houck

David E. Dixon

University Press of Mississippi

Born on September 14, 1921, in New Haven, Connecticut, Constance Baker Motley experienced discrimination at the age of fifteen when she was turned away from a public beach for her dark skin. In 1964 she became the first African American woman to serve in the New York State Senate and the first woman president of the Manhattan City Council. Two years later she became the first African American woman to serve as a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. On August 9, 1965, Motley addressed a Southern Christian Leadership Conference audience in Birmingham, Alabama. This chapter presents Motley’s speech, in which she praised Rosa Parks for her role in the Montgomery bus boycotts of 1955 and Martin Luther King Jr. for his leadership that culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She also urged members of the “Grand Alliance,” of labor, intellectuals, religious liberals, and civil rights advocates to continue to strive for educational integration.

Keywords:   speech, Constance Baker Motley, discrimination, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rosa Parks, bus boycotts, Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965

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