Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, received the 2023 the Order of the Coif award for her book “Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality.” Awarded annually, the Order of the Coif recognizes “outstanding publications that evidence creative talent of the highest order.”
“Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality” (Pantheon Books/Penguin Random House) is a deeply researched biography that explores the life and times of the pathbreaking lawyer, politician, and judge Constance Baker Motley.
Historically grounded in manuscript archives, government documents, oral histories, newspapers, and periodicals, the book offers a detailed portrait of Motley’s exceptional life, the challenges of race and gender, and the fight for legal justice during the twentieth century.
An award-winning legal historian and an expert in constitutional law and education law and policy, Brown-Nagin has published articles and book chapters on a wide range of topics, including the Supreme Court’s equal protection jurisprudence, civil rights law and history, the Affordable Care Act, and education reform.
Her book “Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement” (Oxford University Press, 2011) won a 2012 Bancroft Prize in American History, among other honors.
She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Law Institute, and the American Philosophical Society; a fellow of the American Bar Foundation; a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians; and a member of the board of directors of ProPublica.
In 2019, Brown-Nagin was appointed chair of the Presidential Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery, which is anchored at the Radcliffe Institute. The committee issued a landmark report detailing the university’s direct, financial, and intellectual ties to slavery, which resulted in Harvard’s commitment of $100 million to redress harms to descendant communities in the United States and in the Caribbean.
As a U.S. organization, the Order of the Coif recognizes outstanding scholarship by authors resident in the United States when the book was written or published.