SPOTLIGHT ON: Black History Month
By Christine Bruzzese
has been designated Black History Month in honor of
Black culture and achievements. This article focuses
on two prominent New Yorkers and highlights some resources
in the City Hall Library collection related to Black
Constance Baker Motley was an African-American lawyer
who worked on such pioneering civil rights cases as
Brown v. Board of Education, which ended school segregation
by race in 1954. Judge Motley served as a New York State
Senator from 1964 to 1965. In 1965, she became the first
woman to be elected Manhattan Borough President. Judge
Motley achieved another milestone in 1966, when she
became the first Black woman to be appointed to a federal
judgeship. Her autobiography Equal Justice
under Law recounts her personal life story
and career. Judge Motley passed away in September 2005.
Basil Paterson was born in 1926 in Harlem, New York.
He graduated from St. John’s University Law School
and became active in Democratic politics along with
David Dinkins, Percy Sutton and Charles Rangel. Paterson’s
many achievements include serving in the New York State
Senate; becoming the first African-American to be elected
Vice Chairman of the Democratic National Committee;
serving under Mayor Koch as Deputy Mayor of Labor Relations
and Personnel; being appointed the first African-American
to serve as Secretary of State in New York under Governor
Hugh Carey. His son David Paterson served as Governor
of New York State from March 2008 to December 2010.
Be sure to consult the Library catalog for publications
related to Black history. Vertical and biographical
files contain clippings and other materials of interest
to the researcher.
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