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

  • Dec 03
    Motley Speaker Series | Policing and Race in America: Past, Present, and Future – Part 1 (EMS201203)
    1:00 PM to 3:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
    Access Recording

    How did policing start and evolve in America and what is the role that race has played in the formation and development of police departments and policing? Learn about the history of policing and join our panel to discuss the current role of race in how departments police their communities.

  • Oct 16
    Motley Speaker Series: Equity Through Zoning Reform in Connecticut (EMS201016)
    12:00 PM to 1:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
    Access Recording

    This program will feature land use attorneys, including two law professors, discussing how the structure of land use decision-making in Connecticut can impede policies and decisions that promote racial and economic equity, with a focus on several types of exclusionary zoning regulations; and current efforts to revise state zoning laws to promote desegregation.

  • Sep 24
    Motley Speaker Series: How the Law Structures Educational Inequities (EMS200924)
    3:30 PM to 5:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
    Access Recording

    This panel will feature legal and education scholars who study inequities in primary and secondary educational systems, how school districts are organized and funded, and how inequities manifest in differential school funding, resources, and outcomes.

  • Aug 25
    Motley Speaker Series: Systemic Racism, Voting Rights, and American Democracy (EMS200825)
    5:00 PM to 6:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
    Access Recording

    This 90-minute seminar draws on the experiences of legal academics, elected officials, and political observers to explain how certain fundamentals of our democracy are used to disenfranchise citizens – limiting who has political power, who exercises the right to vote, and who has a voice in our government institutions – on the basis of race. The seminar will explore the systems that perpetuate racial inequality in voting rights and political access: the history and dangerous effects of “gerrymandering”; the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was enacted to help achieve racial equality and representation; and how voter restriction and intimidation efforts accomplish racial disparities in the exercise of voting rights. The programming will look at historical patterns and trends, and how systemic racism impacts voting rights and political access on the national stage and in Connecticut.

  • Aug 12
    Constance Baker Motley Series: Segregated Communities and Opportunity (EMS200812)
    2:00 PM to 3:30 PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
    Access Recording

    This 90-minute seminar uses maps, original photographs, and oral histories to explain how 100 years of discriminatory land use and development policy built and maintains our segregated state. The seminar will also examine the lasting effect these policies have on housing choice and the lives of people of color, particularly lower income Black and Latino families, who have few options to move to areas with high performing schools and safe neighborhoods. The programming is Connecticut-specific and demonstrates how national level policy and funding continue to influence local development and the lives of Connecticut residents.


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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