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Constance Baker  Motley
Dedication Ceremony at Rutgers Law School

March 26, 2024

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Ceremony Participants, Bonita Terry, USPS., Prof. Dorothy Roberts, Esq., Della Moses Walker, ESPER, , Constance Royster, Esq., Susan Davis, Esq., Joanna Bond, Dean, Rutgers Law School

     On Tuesday, March 26, 2024, at 10:00 AM a special stamp dedication ceremony was held for Constance Baker Motley on the campus of Rutgers University Law School in Newark, New Jersey. Her stamp is the 47th in the Black Heritage Series that started in 1978 with a suggestion from the late ESPER board member Clarence L. Irving, Sr. 

     This event was held at Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall during Women’s History Month.  The event was attended by over 200 people. Newark High School students were also in attendance. The students were part of Newark Public School’s Law & Public Safety Academy at University, Barringer and Central High Schools. The event was live-streamed with 100 people on.

     Della Walker Moses, ESPER’s New Jersey State Director was officiated this event. Constance Royster, Esq, the niece of Motley, was the featured speaker at the event.   She is a graduate of Rutgers Law school in 1977. The program’s invocation and benediction were given Rev. Dr. M. William Howard. Remarks were given by Susan Davis, Esq., Rutgers Law School Class of "81 and law clerk to Judge Motley and Dorothy E. Roberts, Esq., Professor of Law, Sociology and Civil Rights at the University of Pennsylvania and a former law clerk to the Judge.

      Judge Motley started her career in 1945 when she began working for the future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF). She would stay 20 years, rising to associate counsel, second from the top.

       While at the LDF she sued the University of Mississippi on behalf of James Meredith, who had been refused entrance, and the state of Mississippi on behalf of “Freedom Riders,” who had been jailed while testing the interstate transportation laws. She also represented Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., after he was arrested for marching in Birmingham, Alabama, in spring 1963. Motley worked on about 60 cases that reached the Supreme Court. She won nine of the 10 cases she argued before the Court.

       Motley and her colleagues often faced danger and disrespect as they challenged the entrenched racist system of the South. She also experienced sexism at a time when female lawyers were a rarity.

         In 1966, Motley was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York — the largest and busiest federal trial court in the country. Despite her nomination being held up for seven months by Sen. James Eastland, a strident segregationist from Mississippi, Motley was sworn in on Sept. 9, 1966 — the first African American woman on the federal bench. She rose to chief judge in 1982 and senior judge in 1986.  Motley was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001 by President Bill Clinton. She died on Sept. 28, 2005.

Ceremony Participants

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 Moderator, Della Moses Walker, 

ESPER New Jersey Chapter Director

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Dr. M. William Howard, Jr.

Pastor Emeritus Bethany Baptist Church, Newark

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Susan Davis, Esq. Rutgers Law School 81' 

Law Clerk of Judge of Motley

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Prof. Dorothy E. Roberts, Esq

Prof. of Law, University of Pennsylvania

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Bonita Terry,

USPS Newark Customer Service 

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Johanna Bond

Dean, Rutgers Law School

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Kaiel Maynor

Rutgers School of Arts and Science Newark 24'

Honor Guards, Joint Base 

McGuire-Dix, Lakehurst, New Jersey

(Click to see more pictures)

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Introduction of Keynote Speaker

by Ayomide Adekoya

Newark Central High School, Class of 25'

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Keynote Speaker, Constance Royster, Esq.

Rutgers Law School 77'

Niece of Constance Baker Motley

Proclamation Presentation for Constance Baker Motley

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Della Walker Mose, ESPER NJ Chapter Director, William D. Payne, Deputy Chief of Staff Essex County,. Newark City Council Rep., and Constance Royster,Esq.  

Students for Newark High Schools

ESPER Members at Ceremony

Members of NAACP

People attending Stamp Ceremony

Stamp Exhibit by Clarence Mcknight

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 Constance Royster,Esq.  with her aunt stamp poster created by Clarence McKnight

More Pictures

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Narline Casimir, President of the Association of

Black Women Lawyers of N J

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Three of event sponsor banners-ESPER, Black Women Lawyers of N.J. and AAUW of N.J. 

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Newark USPS postal clerks 

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(Click for Bio)

Ceremony Committee Members

The members of the program planning committee are: Della Moses Walker, Director of ESPER NJ; Sharon Suber, Co-Director of ESPER NJ and President of AAUW NJ; Benita Terry, USPS Newark Customer Service Operations; Clarence McKnight, ESPER Webmasterr; Janice Harris Jackson, ESPER NJ Publicity Chair, NJSC NAACP Archivist and AAUW Summit College Club; Bruce Morgan, NJSC NAACP 1st Vice President and President of New Brunswick Area NAACP Branch; Narline Casimir, President of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of N J; William D. Payne, Deputy Chief of Staff Essex County; Marjorie Crawford, Professor, Rutgers Law School; Robert Steinbaum, Associate Dean for Advancement, Rutgers Law School; Nouran Ibrahem, Rutgers Law School.

Photos courtesy Ashley Turbull and  Fred Stucker Photography

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