At the height of the civil rights movement, Constance Baker Motley joined the NAACP's legal team. The only woman in the group, she left her husband and infant son in New York for weeks at a time to represent the NAACP in Southern courts.
The first female Black lawyer Southern judges and juries had seen, she stunned them by winning case after case--gaining the right for Black students to enter Ole Miss, The University of Georgia, and Clemson College. After the assassination of one of her closest friends, she returned to New York--and went on to become the first Black woman NY State Senator, the first Black woman Manhattan Borough President, and, with the backing of Lyndon Johnson, the first Black woman named to a federal judgeship. 

With archival footage and narration in Motley's own voice, The Trials of Constance Baker Motley tells the story of a civil rights leader who met prejudice and danger with elegance and humor.

 

 Constance Baker Motley with President Lyndon B. Johnson (1966)

Constance Baker Motley with President Lyndon B. Johnson (1966)

 

PRODUCTION CREDITS

 

CAST
Constance Baker Motley
Harvey Gantt
Charlayne Hunter-Gault
Vernon Jordan
James Meredith 

DIRECTOR CINEMATOGRAPHER EDITOR
Rick Rodgers 

FUNDING PROVIDED BY
JustFilms Ford Foundation

PRODUCERS
Rick Rodgers Joel Motley 

COMPOSER
Michael Ballou 

RE-RECORDING MIXER
Cory Choy 

COLORIST
Vladimir Kucherov 

DIGITAL INTERMEDIATE
Silver Sound 

ARCHIVAL RESEARCH
Joy Bronson Smith
Lewanne Jones

 

ARCHIVAL LICENSING SERVICES

ABCNEWS Videosource
Critical Past
ITN Sources
Mississippi Dept. of Archives & History
NBC Universal Archives
T3 Media / CBS News
UCLA Film & Television Archive
WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection, Univ. Of Georgia Libraries

 

ARCHIVAL AUDIO SOURCES

Columbia Center For Oral History, Columbia University

Excerpts From The Oral Argument In Swain V. Alabama
Provided By Oyez, A Free Law Project
At The Chicago-kent College Of Law,
Part Of The Illinois Institute Of Technology

"Medgar Evers Speaking"
By Medgar Wiley Evers
From The Recording Entitled
Sing For Freedom: The Story Of The
Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs, Sfw40032,
Courtesy Of Smithsonian Folk- ways Recordings.
(P) (C) 1990. Used By Permission.

"City Called Heaven"
By Cleo Kennedy
From The Recording Entitled
Voices Of The Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs 1960-1966,
Sfw40084, Courtesy Of Smithsonian Folk- ways Recordings.
(P) (C) 1997. Used By Permission.