The Constance Baker Motley Speaker Series on Racial Inequality was established by the Connecticut Bar Association and Connecticut Bar Foundation as an ongoing forum for the Connecticut legal community to explore issues of racial inequality and systemic racism. This series is named in honor of civil rights trailblazer Judge Constance Baker Motley with the goal of supporting and fostering renewed commitment to advancing civil rights and social justice.


Anticipated topics will include criminal justice, education, health care, housing, voter suppression, political equality, employment, access to credit, business ownership, and advancement. The series will also address underlying issues that provide impediments to eliminating racism so that our State and Nation can fulfill their promises to provide justice for all.


Upcoming Events

  • Apr 24
    Motley Speaker Series: Unpacking Barriers to Voting During an Election Year (EMS240424)
    5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)

    The right to vote is the foundation of American democracy, enabling the ordinary citizen to raise their voice to reflect the collective will of the American people. But can the promise that a vote represents be realized when voters are confronted with significant obstacles to exercising that right? For generations, Black voters and other voters of color have faced discriminatory policies and other obstacles that disproportionately affect their communities. These obstacles include limited polling places, long lines at the polls, voter identification laws, restrictive voting hours, and fewer opportunities to vote by mail.

Past Events

  • Apr 04
    Refuge Film Screening
    6:00 PM to 8:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
  • Feb 21
    Motley Speaker Series: Investigating Access to Public Spaces (EMS240221)
    5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time)

    This panel discussion will dive deep into the history of discrimination in the Nutmeg State, looking at who was—and was not—permitted access to our public spaces. We will look at how this was effectuated through town ordinances, zoning, and caselaw. The landmark CT Supreme Court decision in Leydon v. Town of Greenwich will be central to this conversation. The panelists will also survey where we are currently.

  • Dec 07
    Motley Speaker Series: Race, Pretrial Detention, and Disparate Outcomes (EMS231207)
    5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time)

    When it comes to pretrial release decisions, we know that anecdotally, race appears a factor in determining who is held and who is released. But research in this area confirms that the plural of anecdote is indeed hard data—statistics demonstrate the stark racial disparities and practical realities of who is held pretrial. This panel discussion will explore that research, laying out the framework for these decisions as well as the risk assessment tools used as part of the calculation. And we’ll take it further—into how the limitations of these risk assessment tools lead straight to inequality in the ultimate outcomes for these cases, and whether there is anything in the process or at the state legislative level that we can do to fix it.

  • Sep 27
    Motley Speaker Series - We See Color: Affirmative Action’s Impact on Education & Its Future
    5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)

    The institution of Affirmative Action methodologies and requirements moved undergraduate and postgraduate schools to consider qualified students of all races, ethnicities, and genders in admissions decisions, thereby reducing discriminatory admissions practices. Consequently, student enrollments have more closely reflected representations of qualified students in relevant applicant populations. The Supreme Court’s decisions in the cases Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina have ended affirmative action admission practices. How could the removal of affirmative action affect college and law school admissions? What efforts can be made to preserve the rights of all applicants against discriminatory admission selection practices? How can we preserve diversity, equity, and inclusion in university and law school student bodies?

  • Jun 13
    Motley Speaker Series: Summative Event - The Legacy of Judge Constance Baker Motley (EMS230613)
    5:00 PM to 6:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)

    The 2023 Constance Baker Motley Speaker Series on Racial Inequality Summative Event will explore the legacy of Judge Motley through narratives of some of Connecticut Black trailblazers. Through their personal and professional narratives, our speakers will discuss the impact of Judge Motley had on their personal and professional lives. Through this we will explore Judge Motley’s impact on her community, education, criminal justice, and the legal profession more broadly.


Hon. Constance Baker Motley (1921-2005)

Hon. Constance Baker Motley born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, was recognized by Resolution of the United States House of Representatives of the 110th Congress in 2007 for her “lifelong commitment to the advancement of civil rights and social justice.” Judge Motley was the first female staff attorney NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF), hired by then Chief Counsel Thurgood Marshall. She argued and won many of the defining cases in the civil rights movement, including those to desegregate schools and universities, housing, transportation, and public accommodations. Judge Motley later became the first Black woman appointed as a federal judge, rising to Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1982.

Sponsored By:

BB_Kronholm-tagHorz CMYK