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

Past Events

  • 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.

  • Mar 15
    Motley Speaker Series | The Rage of Innocence: Race and the Criminalization of Adolescent Behavior
    5:00 PM to 6:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)

    Weaving together powerful narratives and persuasive data, Professor Henning explores the criminalization of normal adolescence and makes a compelling case that racial disparities in the juvenile and criminal legal systems are deeply rooted in America's unfounded, and sometimes intentionally manufactured, fears of youth of color. Unlike white youth, who are afforded the freedom to test boundaries and figure out who they are and who they want to be, youth of color are seen as a threat and denied the privileges of healthy adolescent play, adventure, and experimentation.

  • Jan 17
    Motley Speaker Series | The World According to Dobbs: Racial Inequality and Stare Decisis EMS230117
    5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time)

    The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (Dobbs) overruled Roe v. Wade (Roe) and held that there is no constitutional right to an abortion. The decision will impact women but will significantly impact women and communities of color. Women from minoritized communities, especially Black women, face systemic inequities in health care and reproductive care. Black women are more likely to need access to abortions and die during childbirth, infant mortality rates are higher in communities of color, and access to reproductive healthcare is also limited in many communities of color.

  • Dec 01
    Motley Speaker Series: Encouraging Equity in Special Education (EMS221201)
    4:00 PM to 5:30 PM (Eastern Standard Time)

    Delivery of special education to students in Connecticut is a complex balance of interests between children, parents, schools, administrators, and government. Legal precedent and framework determine the rights and responsibilities of each participant and ultimately, the scope and quality of the special education students receive. This program explores Connecticut's special education system, the perspectives of parties involved, and the challenges and opportunities that arise in practice, all with the goal of encouraging equitable and excellent special education for all students.


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.

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