Foundation Convenings

Constance Baker Motley Exhibit at the Dixwell Q House

Timeless: Telling our Neighborhood Stories

Chapter 1: Constance Baker Motley
Exhibit on View at the Dixwell Q House March 7, 2023-February 24, 2024


Mar 07, 2023 - Feb 24, 2024


On view Saturdays from 12:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m.


Toni N. and Wendell C. Harp Historical Museum at the Dixwell Community House (Q House), 197 Dixwell Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511


Khalilah L. Brown-Dean, Ph.D.; Constance Royster, J.D.; Frank Mitchell, Ph.D.; The Vineyard Project For Black Futures in New Haven Founders Circle

Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress

Judge Motley, one of New Haven’s greats, was the first African American woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court, the first to serve as a federal judge, and so much more. We are excited to host the launch event highlighting these and her many other accomplishments. The exhibit is made possible through The Vineyard Project For Black Futures in New Haven Founders Circle and The Black Futures Fund at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Constance Royster at the “Timeless” exhibit on her aunt, Constance Baker Motley: “This is just the beginning.” Photo Angel Starr

Recap of Launch Event, March 7, 2023:
“Timeless” Honors Past, Inspires Futures

As part of The Foundation’s Black Futures strategy and its Vineyard Project, a new exhibit entitled, “Timeless: Telling Our Neighborhood Stories; Chapter 1: Constance Baker Motley,” opened in the Toni N. and Wendell C. Harp Historical Museum at the Dixwell Community House (Q House) in March 2023.

Among her many accomplishments, Judge Motley was the first Black woman to serve as a federal judge. Born in New Haven, she attended Hillhouse High School and was active with the Q House, making the exhibit site especially meaningful. The display expands on last year’s collection at the Yale Law School to include both Judge Motley’s professional and personal lives.

“This is just the beginning,” said Vineyard Project Founders Circle member Constance Royster, J.D., a niece of Motley. “There are so many stories in this community that need to be told.”

What We Heard

"This is a story that this community needs to know, needs to understand, and needs to take inspiration from. We at The Foundation are committed to telling these stories, telling individual stories, telling family stories, telling neighborhood stories, telling community stories — not just as stories of our past, but to create the inspiration for how these can be the stories of Black futures in our community." — Will Ginsberg, President & CEO, The Community Foundation

"Thank you all for joining us in this exciting debut of the exhibit celebrating the life of Judge Motley — a New Haven native, a star, a civil rights icon, and a woman who led a life of many, many firsts. She served as an inspiration to all of us in the community." — Fernando J. Muñiz, vice chair, The Community Foundation Board of Directors

"Everything we do in this life is a tribute to our elders, who believed in us even in the moments when we couldn't believe in ourselves. ... "Bring your elders and your families to this space. Bring young people in your lives to this space. And just let them sit and be, and soak it all in. So that 10 years from now, 20 years from now, we will be telling their stories on these walls."
— Dr. Khalilah L. Brown-Dean, Black Futures Fund founder and past chair, The Community Foundation Board of Directors

"This is where my aunt got her start. If it hadn't been for the Q House, there might not be a Constance Baker Motley. Where she was heard. Where she was heard. ... We have our histories and we have our legacies, and we cannot let that be changed. We have to write the narrative — our narrative." — Constance Royster, J.D., niece of Judge Motley

"There's a new narrative reflected in new ways of being that is showing up. ... I can't wait to see what unfolds as a result of your narrative being told." — Leon Bailey Jr., SVP for Human Resources and Organizational Culture, The Community Foundation

“This is just the beginning. There are so many stories in this community that need to be told.”

Constance Royster / J.D., and niece of Judge Motley

“Timeless” remains on view at the Dixwell Q House on Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. through February 24, 2024.

Greater New Haven NAACP President Dori Dumas and Motley's niece Constance Royster unveil the stamp at Q House. Photo: New Haven Independent/Yash Roy

Feb. 1, 2024: Constance Baker Motley Black Heritage Stamp Unveiled

Kicking off Black History Month on Feb. 1 at the Dixwell Q House, the Greater New Haven NAACP in collaboration with the United States Postal Service unveiled the Constance Baker Motley postage stamp, #47 in the Black Heritage Stamp series.

The Community Foundation was pleased to support this historic event! Read more about the stamp unveiling event in this story from the New Haven Independent.