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thepeoplesrecord:

10 intriguing female revolutionaries that you didn’t learn about in history class
August 24, 2014

We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts, and lives to work towards burgeoning systems and ideologies. Despite misconceptions, there are tons of women that have participated in revolutions throughout history, with many of them playing crucial roles. They may come from different points on the political spectrum, with some armed with weapons and some armed with nothing but a pen, but all fought hard for something that they believed in.

Let’s take a look at 10 of these female revolutionaries from all over the world that you probably won’t ever see plastered across a college student’s T-shirt.

Nadezhda Krupskaya
Many people know Nadezhda Krupskaya simply as Vladimir Lenin’s wife, but Nadezhda was a Bolshevik revolutionary and politician in her own right. She was heavily involved in a variety of political activities, including serving as the Soviet Union’s Deputy Minister of Education from 1929 until her death in 1939, and a number of educational pursuits. Prior to the revolution, she served as secretary of the Iskra group, managing continent-wide correspondence, much of which had to be decoded. After the revolution, she dedicated her life to improving education opportunities for workers and peasants, for example by striving to make libraries available to everyone.

Constance Markievicz
Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) was an Anglo-Irish Countess, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist. She participated in many Irish independence efforts, including the Easter Rising of 1916, in which she had a leadership role. During the Rising, she wounded a British sniper before being forced to retreat and surrender. After, she was the only woman out of 70 to be put into solitary confinement. She was sentenced to death, but was pardoned based on her gender. Interestingly, the prosecuting counsel claimed that she begged “I am only a woman, you cannot shoot a woman”, while court records show she said “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me”. Constance was one of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position (Minister for Labour of the Irish Republic, 1919–1922), and she was also the first woman elected to the British House of Commons (December 1918)—a position which she rejected due to the Sinn Féin abstentionist policy.

Petra Herrera
During the Mexican Revolution, female soldiers known as soldaderas went into combat along with the men although they often faced abuse. One of the most well-known of the soldaderas was Petra Herrera, who disguised her gender and went by the name “Pedro Herrera”. As Pedro, she established her reputation by demonstrating exemplary leadership (and blowing up bridges) and was able to reveal her gender in time. She participated in the second battle of Torreón on May 30, 1914 along with about 400 other women, even being named by some as being deserving of full credit for the battle. Unfortunately, Pancho Villa was likely unwilling to give credit to a woman and did not promote her to General. In response, Petra left Villa’s forces and formed her own all-woman brigade.

Nwanyeruwa
Nwanyeruwa, an Igbo woman in Nigeria, sparked a short war that is often called the first major challenge to British authority in West Africa during the colonial period. On November 18, 1929, an argument between Nwanyeruwa and a census man named Mark Emereuwa broke out after he told her to “count her goats, sheep and people.” Understanding this to mean she would be taxed (traditionally, women were not charged taxes), she discussed the situation with the other women and protests, deemed the Women’s War, began to occur over the course of two months. About 25,000 women all over the region were involved, protesting both the looming tax changes and the unrestricted power of the Warrant Chiefs. In the end, women’s position were greatly improved, with the British dropping their tax plans, as well as the forced resignation of many Warrant Chiefs.

Lakshmi Sehgal
Lakshmi Sahgal, colloquially known as “Captain Lakshmi”, was a revolutionary of the Indian independence movement, an officer of the Indian National Army, and later, the Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Azad Hind government. In the 40s, she commanded the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, an all-women regiment that aimed to overthrow British Raj in colonial India. The regiment was one of the very few all-female combat regiments of WWII on any side, and was named after another renowned female revolutionary in Indian history, Rani Lakshmibai, who was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Sophie Scholl
German revolutionary Sophie Scholl was a founding member of the non-violent Nazi resistance group The White Rose, which advocated for active resistance to Hitler’s regime through an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign. In February of 1943, she and other members were arrested for handing out leaflets at the University of Munich and sentenced to death by guillotine. Copies of the leaflet, retitled The Manifesto of the Students of Munich, were smuggled out of the country and millions were air-dropped over Germany by Allied forces later that year.

Blanca Canales
Blanca Canales was a Puerto Rican Nationalist who helped organize the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. She was one of the few women in history to have led a revolt against the United States, known as the Jayuya Uprising. In 1948, a severely restricting bill known as the Gag Bill, or Law 53, was introduced that made it a crime to print, publish, sell, or exhibit any material intended to paralyze or destroy the insular government. In response, the Nationalists starting planning armed revolution. On October 30, 1950, Blanca and others took up arms which she had stored in her home and marched into the town of Jayuya, taking over the police station, burning down the post office, cutting the telephone wires, and raising the Puerto Rican flag in defiance of the Gag Law. As a result, the US President declared martial law and ordered Army and Air Force attacks on the town. The Nationalists held on for awhile, but were arrested and sentenced to life in prison after 3 days. Much of Jayuya was destroyed, and the incident was not fairly covered by US media, with the US President even saying it was “an incident between Puerto Ricans.”

Celia Sanchez
Most people know Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, but fewer people have heard of Celia Sanchez, the woman at the heart of the Cuban Revolution who has even been rumored to be the main decision-maker. After the March 10, 1952 coup, Celia joined the struggle against the Batista government. She was a founder of the 26th of July Movement, leader of combat squads throughout the revolution, controlled group resources, and even made the arrangements for the Granma landing, which transported 82 fighters from Mexico to Cuba in order to overthrow Batista. After the revolution, Celia remained with Castro until her death.

Kathleen Neal Cleaver
Kathleen Neal Cleaver was a member of the Black Panther Party and the first female member of the Party’s decision-making body. She served as spokesperson and press secretary and organized the national campaign to free the Party’s minister of defense, Huey Newton, who had been jailed. She and other women, such as Angela Davis, made up around 2/3 of the Party at one point, despite the notion that the BPP was overwhelmingly masculine.

Asmaa Mahfouz
Asmaa Mahfouz is a modern-day revolutionary who is credited with sparking the January 2011 uprising in Egypt through a video blog post encouraging others to join her in protest in Tahrir Square. She is considered one of the leaders of the Egyptian Revolution and is a prominent member of Egypt’s Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution.

These 10 women are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to female revolutionaries. Let us know who you’d like to see in a list of female revolutionaries.

Source

A list of 10 women revolutionaries you probably didn’t learn about in History class: Nadezhda Krupskaya, Constance Markievicz, Petra Herrera, Nwanyeruwa, Lakshmi Sehgal, Sophie Scholl, Blanca Canales, Celia Sanchez, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Asmaa Mahfouz

‪#‎womenshistory‬ ‪#‎womensstudies‬ ‪‬ ‪#‎revolutionaryhistory‬ ‪#‎history‬ ‪#‎historia‬ ‪#‎histoire‬ ‪#‎historysisco‬

rebermem

100+ Followers

rebermem:

historysisco:

Wow. I just noticed that I have 100+ followers (103 to be exact). Thank you to everyone who has followed me and this page. I hope that I have been able to bring you a little bit of history to your daily grind. I hope my posts haven’t been too mundane or too stuffy. If you are looking to see any particular person or era, please let me know. I look forward to learning something new everyday. 

Thanks again

History Sisco

Great blog!

Thank you rebermem
On this day in history September 16, 1982: A massacre of between 1,200 and 1,400 Palestinian men, women and children at the hands of Israeli-allied Christian Phalange militiamen began in west Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.
According to the article Survivors recount Sabra-Shatila massacre by Nour Samaha from the Al Jazeera website dated September 16, 2012 states the reason for the massacre:

The massacre came on the heels of the assassination of Bashir Gemayel, the leader of the Phalangists. The Phalangists wrongly blamed the Palestinians for the assassination, and executed the massacre as a reprisal attack with the Israeli army, who had invaded Lebanon to fight the Palestinians and supporters of the Palestinian cause.

While the blame for the assassination was placed on the Palestinians, the murderer of Bashir Gemayel was actually a pro-Syrian militant.
The article West Turned Blind Eye to Zionist’s Involvement in Sabra And Shatila Massacre from the Globe Muslims website dated September 17, 2013 goes into further details:

Israeli soldiers, led by Sharon and Chief of Staff, Rafael Etan, made sure their forces are surrounding the refugee camp, isolated it from its surrounding, and allowed the Phalanges to invade it and murder thousands of innocent refugees using white weapons.
The Israeli army also fired hundreds of flares during the massacres in night hours to enable the murderers to commit their war crime. The army claimed that it was searching for nearly 1500 Palestinian freedom fighters that allegedly were in the camp.
But the fighters were somewhere else, joining battle fronts countering the Israeli aggression, and most of those left in the camp, left to face their horrific end, were elderly women and children.
Israel wanted to avenge its defeat after engaging in a three-month battle and siege that ended by international guarantees, to protect the civilians the Palestinian resistance left Beirut as part of an agreement that assured the protection of civilians.
Israel wanted to send a message to the Palestinian refugees; it wanted to continue its aggression and invasion into Lebanon in 1982.
Ariel Sharon, who served as Israel’s Defense Minister, led the assault.


The massacres lasted for three days from September 16-18.
An Op-Ed piece entitled A Preventable Massacre by Seth Anziska from the New York Times dated September 16, 2012 states:

In 1983, an Israeli investigative commission concluded that Israeli leaders were “indirectly responsible” for the killings and that Ariel Sharon, then the defense minister and later prime minister, bore “personal responsibility” for failing to prevent them.

The commission mentioned above was the Kahan Commission. The Jewish Virtual Library in their post First Lebanon War: The Kahan Commission of Inquiry (February 8, 1983) states:

On February 8, 1983, the Kahan Commission of Inquiry released its “Report into the Events at the Refugee Camps in Beirut” and determined that the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla was carried out by a Phalangist unit acting on its own. While no Israelis were directly responsible for the events which occurred in the camps, Israel did know of the Phalangist’s entry into the camps.
The Commission asserted that Israel had indirect responsibility for the massacre: Prime Minister Menachem Begin was found responsible for not exercising greater involvement in the matter; Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was found responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed when he approved the Phalangists’ entry as well as not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed; IDF Chief of Staff Raful Eitan was found responsible for not giving the appropriate orders to prevent the massacre.
The Commission recommended that the Defense Minister resign, that the Director of Military Intelligence not continue in his post and other senior officers be removed.

To add insult to injury, the article West Turned Blind Eye to Zionist’s Involvement in Sabra And Shatila Massacre states:

Not a single Israeli official, commander or soldier was ever held accountable for the ugly crimes, and massacres, against the Palestinian people.

And to further insult those who survived the assault, the article 1982: Refugees massacred in Beirut camps from the BBC On This Day 1950-2005 website states:

That same year, 23 survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacres brought a civil action against him and others, accusing them of crimes against humanity, but the case was suspended.

This isn’t the first massacre or retaliatory attack by either side in this on-going conflict. It seems to me, as an outsider, that this conflict will never end until one side completely obliterates the other. In the end, innocents are the ones that bear the responsibility and often pay the ultimate price as was seen in a three day period of September 16-18 in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in West Beirut.
May all those lost during those days, Rest in Peace.   
For Further Reading:
The forgotten massacre by Robert Fisk from the Independent dated September 15, 2014
Survivors recount Sabra-Shatila massacre by Nour Samaha from the Al Jazeera website dated September 16, 2012
West Turned Blind Eye to Zionist’s Involvement in Sabra And Shatila Massacre from the Globe Muslims website dated September 17, 2013
First Lebanon War: Massacres at Sabra & Shatila (September 16-17, 1982) from the Jewish Virtual Library
First Lebanon War: The Kahan Commission of Inquiry (February 8, 1983) from the Jewish Virtual Library The entire commission report can be found here
The New Lebanon Crisis: A refugee massacre follows Gemayel’s murder and an Israeli occupation b
y William E. Smith from Time Magazine September 27, 1982

On this day in history September 16, 1982: A massacre of between 1,200 and 1,400 Palestinian men, women and children at the hands of Israeli-allied Christian Phalange militiamen began in west Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

According to the article Survivors recount Sabra-Shatila massacre by Nour Samaha from the Al Jazeera website dated September 16, 2012 states the reason for the massacre:

The massacre came on the heels of the assassination of Bashir Gemayel, the leader of the Phalangists. The Phalangists wrongly blamed the Palestinians for the assassination, and executed the massacre as a reprisal attack with the Israeli army, who had invaded Lebanon to fight the Palestinians and supporters of the Palestinian cause.

While the blame for the assassination was placed on the Palestinians, the murderer of Bashir Gemayel was actually a pro-Syrian militant.

The article West Turned Blind Eye to Zionist’s Involvement in Sabra And Shatila Massacre from the Globe Muslims website dated September 17, 2013 goes into further details:

Israeli soldiers, led by Sharon and Chief of Staff, Rafael Etan, made sure their forces are surrounding the refugee camp, isolated it from its surrounding, and allowed the Phalanges to invade it and murder thousands of innocent refugees using white weapons.

The Israeli army also fired hundreds of flares during the massacres in night hours to enable the murderers to commit their war crime. The army claimed that it was searching for nearly 1500 Palestinian freedom fighters that allegedly were in the camp.

But the fighters were somewhere else, joining battle fronts countering the Israeli aggression, and most of those left in the camp, left to face their horrific end, were elderly women and children.

Israel wanted to avenge its defeat after engaging in a three-month battle and siege that ended by international guarantees, to protect the civilians the Palestinian resistance left Beirut as part of an agreement that assured the protection of civilians.

Israel wanted to send a message to the Palestinian refugees; it wanted to continue its aggression and invasion into Lebanon in 1982.

Ariel Sharon, who served as Israel’s Defense Minister, led the assault.

The massacres lasted for three days from September 16-18.

An Op-Ed piece entitled A Preventable Massacre by Seth Anziska from the New York Times dated September 16, 2012 states:

In 1983, an Israeli investigative commission concluded that Israeli leaders were “indirectly responsible” for the killings and that Ariel Sharon, then the defense minister and later prime minister, bore “personal responsibility” for failing to prevent them.

The commission mentioned above was the Kahan Commission. The Jewish Virtual Library in their post First Lebanon War: The Kahan Commission of Inquiry (February 8, 1983) states:

On February 8, 1983, the Kahan Commission of Inquiry released its “Report into the Events at the Refugee Camps in Beirut” and determined that the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla was carried out by a Phalangist unit acting on its own. While no Israelis were directly responsible for the events which occurred in the camps, Israel did know of the Phalangist’s entry into the camps.

The Commission asserted that Israel had indirect responsibility for the massacre: Prime Minister Menachem Begin was found responsible for not exercising greater involvement in the matter; Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was found responsible for ignoring the danger of bloodshed when he approved the Phalangists’ entry as well as not taking appropriate measures to prevent bloodshed; IDF Chief of Staff Raful Eitan was found responsible for not giving the appropriate orders to prevent the massacre.

The Commission recommended that the Defense Minister resign, that the Director of Military Intelligence not continue in his post and other senior officers be removed.

To add insult to injury, the article West Turned Blind Eye to Zionist’s Involvement in Sabra And Shatila Massacre states:

Not a single Israeli official, commander or soldier was ever held accountable for the ugly crimes, and massacres, against the Palestinian people.

And to further insult those who survived the assault, the article 1982: Refugees massacred in Beirut camps from the BBC On This Day 1950-2005 website states:

That same year, 23 survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacres brought a civil action against him and others, accusing them of crimes against humanity, but the case was suspended.

This isn’t the first massacre or retaliatory attack by either side in this on-going conflict. It seems to me, as an outsider, that this conflict will never end until one side completely obliterates the other. In the end, innocents are the ones that bear the responsibility and often pay the ultimate price as was seen in a three day period of September 16-18 in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in West Beirut.

May all those lost during those days, Rest in Peace.   

For Further Reading:

Amelia Earhart and Laura Ingalls
This photograph shows Amelia Earhart Putnam and Laura Ingalls descending from a TWA “Sky Chief” airplane that stopped briefly at the municipal airport in Wichita, Kansas. The two female aviators were headed for Los Angeles, California.
Date: August 19, 1935 

Amelia Earhart and Laura Ingalls

This photograph shows Amelia Earhart Putnam and Laura Ingalls descending from a TWA “Sky Chief” airplane that stopped briefly at the municipal airport in Wichita, Kansas. The two female aviators were headed for Los Angeles, California.

Date: August 19, 1935 

100+ Followers

Wow. I just noticed that I have 100+ followers (103 to be exact). Thank you to everyone who has followed me and this page. I hope that I have been able to bring you a little bit of history to your daily grind. I hope my posts haven’t been too mundane or too stuffy. If you are looking to see any particular person or era, please let me know. I look forward to learning something new everyday. 

Thanks again

History Sisco

On this day in History September 15, 1963: Living up to the grisly nickname of Bombingham, the city of Birmingham and the nation as a whole is rocked by a explosion of a bomb that was planted at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. It was bad enough that the bomb was set to go off during Sunday service (the clock on the wall stopped at 10:22 a.m), the bomb’s explosion injured a number of people and took the lives of four girls. Four girls who would never grow into women. Four girls whose extinguished lives would never have a chance to pursue their dreams regardless of their color or standing. Four girls whose lives were taken due to an irrational hatred and an ignorance colored by the hue of racism. Denise McNair (11), Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14) and Cynthia Wesley (14) were taken from this world due to hate. 

To add insult to the injury, witnesses pointed out Ku Klux Klan member Robert Chambliss as being the one who planted the bomb. As par for the course in many areas of the South during this era, Chambliss was found Not-Guilty of the crimes presented against him and was fined $100 for having dynamite in his possession without having a permit.

The article Birmingham, Alabama, and the Civil Rights 

Movement in 1963: The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing from the Modern American Poetry Page of the University of Illinois describes what happened next:

The case was unsolved until Bill Baxley was elected attorney general of Alabama. He requested the original Federal Bureau of Investigation files on the case and discovered that the organization had accumulated a great deal of evidence against Chambliss that had not been used in the original trial.

In November, 1977 Chambliss was tried once again for the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. Now aged 73, Chambliss was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Chambliss died in an Alabama prison on 29th October, 1985.

On 17th May, 2000, the FBI announced that the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing had been carried out by the Ku Klux Klan splinter group, the Cahaba Boys. It was claimed that four men, Robert Chambliss, Herman Cash, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry had been responsible for the crime. Cash was dead but Blanton and Cherry were arrested and Blanton has since been tried and convicted.

The girls’ lives and the injuries of those in the church were not in vain. The outrage of not only the American public but of the World in general led to a renewed energy in the pursuit for Civil Rights. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act were passed, fueled in part by the rage and pain caused by this hateful act.

On February 20, 2006, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is declared a national historic landmark by the National Park Service. On September 12, 2013, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously.

The article 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Victims Bronze Medal from the US Mint website describe the medal:

The designs for the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Victims Congressional Gold Medal and bronze duplicates were selected by the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

The obverse (heads side), designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer Barbara Fox and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz, features the silhouette of four young girls, representing those killed on September 15, 1963. The victims’ names, ADDIE MAE COLLINS, DENISE McNAIR, CAROLE ROBERTSON, and CYNTHIA WESLEY, are inscribed around the border of the design. The quote PIVOTAL IN THE STRUGGLE FOR EQUALITY and additional inscriptions SEPTEMBER 15 and 1963 are incused across the silhouettes.

The reverse (tails), designed by AIP Master Designer Donna Weaver and sculpted by Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna, depicts a view of the 16th Street Baptist Church with the quote KILLED IN THE BOMBING OF THE 16TH ST. BAPTIST CHURCH to the left of the image. Additional inscriptions are ACT OF CONGRESS 2013 and BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA.

Two days later a bronze and steel monument honoring the four girls is unveiled in Birmingham. It is located at Kelly Ingram Park, on the corner of Sixteenth Street North and Sixth Avenue North.

The article Four Spirits Statue, Memorial to 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Victims, Unveiled by Andrew Yeager from the WBHM website dated September 15, 2013 gives details on the unveiling:

Birmingham-born artist Elizabeth MacQueen created the bronze and steel statue. The four girls are depicted with with life-sized figures, while six doves fly above. The doves represent the four bombing victims plus two others who died the same day in Birmingham.

A white teenager shot 13-year-old Virgil Ware while riding on the handlebars of his brother’€™s bicycle. A police officer shot 16-year-old Johnny Robinson. Robinson was reportedly with a group of black teenagers throwing rocks at cars driven by white teens. One car displayed the Confederate flag. The two groups exchanged racial slurs.

The memorial also notes Sarah Collins Rudolph, the sister of Addie Mae Collins. Rudolph survived the bombing, but has dealt with severe injuries.

The statue sits diagonally from the 16th Street Baptist Church at the northwest entrance to the park.

Rest in peace Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley.

For Further Reading

On this day in History September 14, 1901: In a continuation of my post from September 6, 1901, Fatally injured President William McKinley succumbs to his gunshot wound. His death opens the door for his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt to become President of the United States.

This move backfired against those politicians in New York State that maneuvered to get Teddy Roosevelt and his reformist views out of the way by his becoming the Vice President of the United States. Roosevelt was a serious threat to the Machine Politics that ran New York State like a personal fiefdom and the corporate interests that Roosevelt’s reforms aimed to challenge. The perfect way was to have Roosevelt be the Vice President to McKinley’s President. It is a position that to this day is seen as one that has no real function…until something happens to the President. 

To further prove how the Vice President position was looked down upon, Roosevelt was quoted as saying "I would a great deal rather be anything, say professor of history, than Vice-President."

Roosevelt being inducted to the office of the Presidency meant that he was the youngest President of the United States. At the age of 42, he would be the youngest until President John F. Kennedy would win the Presidency after the 1960 election.

For Further Reading:

missfolly
missfolly:

Head of an Athlete Unknown Greek or Roman (ca 1st century BC - 1st century AD)
Description: ‘The unusual hairstyle, with twisted locks falling down the back of the head, the receding forehead, and the flaring nostrils suggest that the subject is an athlete. The exaggerated features are characteristic of a Greek artist’s portrayal of a foreigner, perhaps an Egyptian.’
It would be interesting to know if it is thought that this head was part of a statue. Miss Folly

medievalpoc…ever see this?

missfolly:

Head of an Athlete 
Unknown Greek or Roman (ca 1st century BC - 1st century AD)

Description: ‘The unusual hairstyle, with twisted locks falling down the back of the head, the receding forehead, and the flaring nostrils suggest that the subject is an athlete. The exaggerated features are characteristic of a Greek artist’s portrayal of a foreigner, perhaps an Egyptian.’

It would be interesting to know if it is thought that this head was part of a statue. Miss Folly

medievalpoc…ever see this?

On this day in history September 14, 1921: Constance Baker Motley was born in New Haven Connecticut. She was the ninth of twelve children born to parents Rachel Huggins and Willoughby Alva Baker who had emigrated from the island of Nevis in the West Indies. Judge Motley would receive her law degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1946. This would put her on the path that she would be most known for.

She would meet future United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall while at Columbia Law School. The article Constance Baker Motley from the Columbia 250 website elaborates on this meeting of future African-American jurists:

While still a law student at Columbia, Motley met Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP’s legal director, who offered her a job as a law clerk in the organization’s New York office. After receiving her law degree in 1946, Motley became a full-fledged member of the NAACP’s legal staff.

According to the article Constance Baker Motley (1921-2005) from the National Women’s History Project webpage:

In 1948, she began a 16-year as a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, serving as a key attorney in many of the major legal challenges of the civil rights era, including dozens of school desegregation challenges.   She was the only woman on the legal team in the historic legal challenge to school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education.  She was lead counsel for James Meredith in his successful battle to gain admission to University of Mississippi.  She argued ten cases to the United States Supreme Court, winning nine of them

Her obituary Constance Baker Motley, Civil Rights Trailblazer, Dies at 84 by Douglas Martin from the New York Times dated September 29, 2005 

Judge Motley won cases that ended segregation in Memphis restaurants and at whites-only lunch counters in Birmingham, Ala. She fought for King’s right to march in Albany, Ga. She played an important role in representing blacks seeking admission to the Universities of Florida, Georgia Alabama and Mississippi and Clemson College in South Carolina.

In 1964, she ran for New York State Senate and became the first African-American woman to be a State Senator of the state of New York. In 1965, she also became the first African American woman to be a New York City Borough President.The Douglas obituary of Judge Mobley describes this further:

In February 1964, Mrs. Motley’s high-level civil rights profile drew her into politics. A Democratic State Senate candidate from the Upper West Side was ruled off the ballot because of an election-law technicality. She accepted the nomination on the condition that it would not interfere with her N.A.A.C.P. work and handily defeated a Republican to become the first black woman elected to the State Senate. She was re-elected that November.

She remained in the job until February 1965, when she was chosen by unanimous vote of the City Council to fill a one-year vacancy as Manhattan borough president. In citywide elections nine months later, she was re-elected to a full four-year term with the endorsement of the Democratic, Republican and Liberal Parties.

As borough president, she drew up a seven-point program for the revitalization of Harlem and East Harlem, securing $700,000 to plan for those and other underprivileged areas of the city.

A more in-depth description of Motley’s accomplishment in New York City law and political career comes from the post Constance Baker Motley Papers, 1948-1988 from the Five Colleges Archives & Manuscript Collections webpage:

In the late 1950s Motley had begun to be active in New York State politics. She served as a member of the New York State Advisory Council on Employment and Unemployment Insurance from 1958 to 1964, and in February 1964, she left the NAACP, having won a special election to the New York State Senate, becoming the first African American woman to serve in that body. As State Senator for the 21st Congressional District in Manhattan (roughly from 96th street on the upper west side to 161st street in Harlem), Motley launched a campaign during her first seven weeks in office to extend civil rights legislation in employment, education, and housing. She was re-elected to the Senate in November 1964 and served until February 1965, when New York City Council elected her the first woman to serve as President of the Borough of Manhattan. She was re-elected in the city-wide elections of November 1965 for a full four-year term and was the first candidate for the Manhattan Presidency to win the endorsement of the Republican, Democratic, and Liberal Parties. As Borough President, Motley drew up a seven-point program for the revitalization of Harlem and East Harlem, and won a pioneering fight for $700,000 to plan renewal projects for those and other underprivileged areas of the city. The plan included a design to decrease racial segregation in the public schools serving the housing projects.

Her biggest promotion came in 1966 when President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed to a judgeship for the Southern District of New York. The Southern District of New York is the largest federal district in the nation. In doing so, she became the first African-American woman to be appointed to a Federal Judgeship. The the post Constance Baker Motley Papers, 1948-1988 from the Five Colleges Archives & Manuscript Collections webpage describes this further:

Over tremendous opposition from southern senators (led by Senator James Eastland of Mississippi) and other federal judges, Motley was confirmed in August 1966, becoming the first woman to occupy that post, and the first African American woman ever named to the federal bench. Judge Motley continued to be a strong supporter of civil rights for minorities and the poor, as well as for women’s rights. Among her many controversial decisions was the infamous “locker room case,” Ludtke v. Kuhn (1978), in which she ruled that a woman reporter be admitted to the New York Yankees’ locker room. In another highly publicized case Judge Motley admonished the New York City police for not providing Vietnam war protesters with adequate protection against violence in the streets (Belknap et al v. Leary, 1970).

Judge Motley would be appointed Chief Judge of the Southern District of New York in 1982 and held senior status since 1986. In 2001, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Citizens’ Medal in recognition of her achievements and service to the nation. In 2003, the NAACP selected her to receive its highest honor, the Springarn Medal.

Judge Motley would pass away of heart disease at the age of 84 in 2005.

For Further Reading: