Constance Baker Motleywas an African-American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator, and Borough President of Manhattan, New York City...
When I was 15, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. No one thought this was a good idea
King consciously steered away from legal claims and instead relied on civil disobedience.
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.
Had it not been for James Meredith, who was willing to risk his life, the University of Mississippi would still be all white.
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
I rejected the notion that my race or sex would bar my success in life.
Sexism, like racism, goes with us into the next century. I see class warfare as overshadowing both.
In high school, I won a prize for an essay on tuberculosis. When I got through writing the essay, I was sure I had the disease.
Doing away with separate black colleges meets resistance from alumni and other blacks.
I grew up in a house where nobody had to tell me to go to school every day and do my homework.
The legal difference between the sit-ins and the Freedom Riders was significant.
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.
By 1962, King had become, by the media's reckoning, the new civil rights leader.
How long must the American community afford special treatment to blacks?
I never thought I would live long enough to see the legal profession change to the extent it has.
Living at the YMCA in Harlem dramatically broadened my view of the world.
The fact is that racism, despite all the doomsayers, has diminished
Lack of encouragement never deterred me. I was the kind of person who would not be put down.
My father kept his distance from working-class American blacks.
The women's rights movement of the 1970s had not yet emerged; except for Bella Abzug, I had no women supporters.
There appears to be no limit as to how far the women's revolution will take us.
There is no longer a single common impediment to blacks emerging in this society.
When Thurgood Marshall became a lawyer, race relations in the United States were particularly bad.
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.
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.
The middle class, in the white population, encompasses a wide swath.
The black population now consists of two distinct classes-the middle class and the poor.
In my view, I did not get to the federal bench because I was a woman
The last state to admit a black student to the college level was South Carolina
Columbia Law School men were being drafted, and suddenly women who had done well in college were considered acceptable candidates for the vacant seats.
All Southern state colleges and universities are open to black students.
Affirmitive action is extremely complex because it appears in many different forms.
My parents never told us that our great-grandmothers had been slaves.
Today's white majority is largely silent about the race question.
Too many whites still see blacks as a group apart.
We Americans entered a new phase in our history - the era of integration - in 1954.
Whites would rather not be involved in race matters, I think.
I was born and raised in the oldest settled part of the nation and in an environment in which racism was officially mooted.
When I went to law school, nobody heard of civil rights.
I soon found law school an unmitigated bore.
King thought he understood the white Southerner, having been born and reared in Georgia and trained a theologian.
A Negro who does not vote is ungrateful to those who have already died in the fight for freedom. ... Any person who does not vote is failing to serve the cause of freedom - his own freedom, his people's freedom, and his country's freedom.
Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade.
The Constitution, as originally drawn, made no reference to the fact that all Americans wre considered equal members of society.