by Motley, Constance Baker
Publisher:Farrar Straus & Giroux (T)
Much like the Delany sisters of Brooklyn, Constance Baker Motley was one of the first black women to overcome the barriers of race and sex to become a leading figure in her field of expertise. In the mid '60s, Motley became the first black female senator, the first black woman elected to the office of Manhattan borough president, and the first woman appointed to the federal bench. Now a senior judge in a U.S. District Court of New York, Motley looks back on a lifetime of unprecedented achievements and gives personal testimony to some of the greatest moments in the civil rights movement in her autobiography, Equal Justice Under Law. Her story is an impressive one: she dramatically recounts sitting on-stage with her son as Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech and recalls the traumatic times in Mississippi that led to the murder of her colleague and friend, Medgar Evers. She served on the NAACP's Legal Defense and Education Fund, fought alongside Thurgood Marshall in Brown v. Board of Education, and made 10 other appearances before the Supreme Court. Fascinating as Motley's life has been, those with some prior knowledge of civil rights may fare best with this book, considering its weighted language and complex prose--an expected caveat, considering the author has spent her life steeped in the language of law.