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

  • Feb 08
    Motley Speaker Series | Colorism Matters: Skin-tone bias and the DE&I and Belonging Conversation
    4:00 PM to 5:15 PM (Eastern Standard Time)

    Join us as Professor Trina Jones, the Jerome M. Culp Distinguished Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law, takes us on a journey to understand colorism and its impact on society, and particularly the legal profession. Professor Kathy Taylor will lead us on a moderated discussion of colorism with Professor Jones.

  • Nov 04
    Motley Speaker Series: The CBA Task Force's Recommendations on Policing in Connecticut (EMS211104)
    5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
    Submit A Question

    In the wake of the George Floyd homicide, a diverse group of attorneys, community members, and law enforcement leaders met on a weekly basis for over a year to discuss, research and make recommendations to the State legislature and other stakeholders regarding policing in Connecticut. It is anticipated their work will culminate in a written report to be publicly released this fall. In this session, leaders and key members of this Task Force will share what they learned and what they recommend we do to address the challenges in policing and to improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

  • Sep 21
    The Trials of Constance Baker Motley: A Centennial Retrospective (EMS210921)
    5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
    Access Recording

    September 14, 2021 marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Judge Constance Baker Motley. In this inaugural series event for the 2021-2022 bar year, we are celebrating the life and legacy of Judge Motley. We will start with a screening of The Trials of Constance Baker Motley, a 2015 documentary produced by her son, Joel Motley. The documentary spans her remarkable legal career, including, but not limited to, her work with Justice Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP and her landmark civil rights cases before the US Supreme Court, as well as her accomplishments as the first African-American woman elected to the New York State Senate, the first woman elected as Manhattan Borough president, and the first African-American woman appointed to the federal bench. The documentary will be followed by a discussion and reflection on Judge Motley moderated by law professor Kate Stith, featuring Judge Motley's son Joel W. Motley, niece Constance L. Royster, former law clerk Daniel J. Steinbock, and law professor Marilyn J. Ford.

  • Jun 15
    The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (2021CLC-EP01)
    5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)

    Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson will facilitate a question and answer segment with Richard Rothstein. A panel discussion will follow to highlight what has been done in the past year and how we will continue to address racial inequality in Connecticut in honor of the legacy of Hon. Constance Baker Motley.

  • Apr 21
    Motley Speaker Series: Eradicating Racial Bias in Jury Selection & Jury Deliberation in CT EMS210421
    12:00 PM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
    Access Recording

    In a tumultuous year that has brought long-avoided issues of racial injustice to the fore, Connecticut is considering certain proactive steps to try to eradicate racial bias in jury selection and deliberation in both civil and criminal cases. Following the release of specific recommendations by the Jury Selection Task Force appointed by Chief Justice Robinson, this event will explore the proposals aimed at identifying and eliminating various forms of conscious and unconscious bias from jury selection and deliberation. Attendees are encouraged to review the Task Force Report and pose questions for the panelists both before and during the event.


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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