The 'double-edged sword' of being a Black first : Code Switch It's Black History Month, which is likely to bring boundless stories of Black Excellence and Black Firsts. So today on the show, we're talking about Constance Baker Motley — a trailblazing civil rights judge who paved the way for many to come after her (including, perhaps, the next Supreme Court justice?) But, as we learned, Motley's life was full of contradictions, and her many achievements also came with many costs.

The 'double-edged sword' of being a Black first

The 'double-edged sword' of being a Black first

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Constance Baker Motley, nominated to be judge of the southern district of New York, poses in Washington during confirmation hearings, April 4, 1966. Henry Griffin/AP Photo hide caption

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Henry Griffin/AP Photo

Constance Baker Motley, nominated to be judge of the southern district of New York, poses in Washington during confirmation hearings, April 4, 1966.

Henry Griffin/AP Photo

It's Black History Month, which is likely to bring boundless stories of Black Excellence and Black Firsts. So today on the show, we're talking about Constance Baker Motley — a trailblazing civil rights judge who ruled in some landmark cases and helped pave the way for many to come after her (including, perhaps, the next Supreme Court justice?) But, as we learned, Motley's life was full of contradictions, and her many achievements also came with many costs.

On this episode, we spoke to Tomiko Brown-Nagin, author of Civil Rights Queen, the new biography about Constance Baker Motley. Motley was the first Black woman to serve as a federal judge and the first Black woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court.