Law

Constance Baker Motley

Constance Motley

Constance Baker Motley was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1921. She received her bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1943, and graduated from the prestigious Columbia Law School in 1946.

Motley began her legal career as Thurgood Marshall’s law clerk at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, working at the forefront of the civil rights movement. In 1961, she became the first African-American woman to argue a case before the US Supreme Court, Hamilton v. State of Alabama, (1961). Although she lost her first case, Motley went on to argue before the Court nine more times, winning all nine cases.

Motley had other firsts in her long and distinguished career: in 1964 she became the first African-American woman in the New York State Senate; in 1965 she became the first woman (of any race) elected President of the Manhattan Borough; Continue reading

Violette Neatley Anderson

Violette N. Anderson

Violette N. Anderson was born July 16, 1882, in London, England. She and her parents, Richard and Marie Neatley, emigrated to the United States while Violette was a young girl, settling in Chicago. Violette graduated from Chicago’s North Division High School in 1899, then worked as a court reporter from 1905-1920.

She was fascinated by law and determined to become an attorney herself. She attended post-secondary school at the Chicago Seminar of Sciences from 1912-1915, and earned her LLB (a more advanced law degree than the typical JD) from Chicago Law School in 1920.

Violette Neatley Anderson became the first female Chicago City prosecutor in 1922, then established a successful legal practice in the Chicago area two years later. On January 29, 1926, she became the first African-American woman admitted to the US Supreme Court bar, but never argued a case before the Court. Continue reading

Reuben V. Anderson

Reuben V. Anderson

Reuben V. Anderson

Reuben V. Anderson was the 1st Black appointed to Mississippi Supreme Court.

African American civil rights lawyer, Anderson attended Tougaloo College and graduated from Ole Miss law school in 1967. Upon his graduation, he began working as the Mississippi associate counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. until 1975. From 1981 to 1985, he served as judge in Hinds County Circuit Court.

Next, he was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, a position he held until 1991.

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall

Born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908, Thurgood Marshall was the grandson of a slave. His father, William Marshall, instilled in him from youth an appreciation for the United States Constitution and the rule of law. After completing high school in 1925, Thurgood followed his brother, William Aubrey Marshall, at the historically black Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

His classmates at Lincoln included a distinguished group of future Black leaders such as the poet and author Langston Hughes, the future President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, and musician Cab Calloway. Just before graduation, he married his first wife, Vivian “Buster” Burey. Their twenty-five year marriage ended with her death from cancer in 1955.  Continue reading

13th Amendment

13th AamendmentPassed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States.

AMENDMENT XIII

SECTION 1.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

SECTION 2.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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