Item Details

Interview With Constance Baker Motley

Elwood, William A; Kulish, Mykola
Online; Online Video; Video
2006; 1987-12-18
Part one. Judge Constance Baker Motley recalls her childhood and education, including her first experience with Jim Crow. The Gaines case in 1938 influenced her to become a lawyer. Clarence Blakeslee, a white philanthropist in Connecticut, paid for her law school tuition. She joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1945 as a clerk. She discusses the legal strategy to target southern graduate schools with enforcement of the Gaines decision. Part two. Judge Motley recalls the NAACP Legal Defense Fund campaign to address the lack of adequate graduate and professional schools for African American students in the South. She discusses the background of several higher education cases, including the 1946 Sweatt case in Texas and the Sipuel case in Oklahoma. The next step in the strategy was to bring suits in elementary and secondary education. Five of these cases culminated in the Brown v. Board of Education decision. She also reviews the immediate history of civil rights following the Brown decision. Part three. Motley describes the grassroots revolution for civil rights after the Brown decision as a surprise to the legal strategists at the NAACP. New laws on the state level reasserting discrimination were also an obstacle for Motley and her NAACP colleagues. In 1961 she represented James Meredith in his fight to enter the University of Mississippi; she also represented Charlayne Hunter Gault and Hamilton Holmes in their fights to enter the University of Georgia. She recalls the first case she ever tried in 1949 in Mississippi. Part four. The judge shares her memories of the early days of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, especially hearing stories by Thurgood Marshall about Charles Hamilton Houston and William Hastie. She heard Houston and Marshall argue the restrictive covenant cases at the US Supreme Court. During this visit to Washington DC, she and her African American comrades were not allowed to stay in DC hotels. She recalls the important cases devised or tried by Houston. Part five. Judge Motley lists the many changes since the Brown decision.
Elwood, William A
Kulish, Mykola
Motley, Constance Baker, 1921-2005
Digitized by: Cincinnati, Ohio : The PPS Group, 2006.
Source footage for the documentary, The road to Brown : the untold story of “the man who killed Jim Crow” (California Newsreel, 1990), about the life of Charles Hamilton Houston, his crusade for civil rights, and the events that led to Brown v. the Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared the doctrine of separate but equal to be illegal.
Title supplied by cataloger.
Recorded at New York, New York.
William A. Elwood Civil Rights Lawyers Project
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Road to Brown : the untold story of "the man who killed Jim Crow."
William A. Elwood Civil Rights Lawyers Project
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Part one of five.

Part two of five.

Part three of five.

Part four of five.

Part five of five.