Fannie E. Motley Article

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Fannie Ernestine Motley (1938 - May 8, 2016) was raised in Monroeville, Alabama. She enrolled in college shortly after the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Years before George Wallace attempted to block integration of the University of Alabama, Motley was ready to become the first black student to graduate from Spring Hill College, the white Jesuit university in Mobile, Alabama, in 1956. This historical moment was documented in The New York Times, Jet Magazine and Time Magazine.

Motley came to Cincinnati in 1963 when her husband was installed as pastor of Peace Baptist Church. She taught for 24 years in the Cincinnati Public School system. In 1969 she earned a master's degree in guidance counseling from Xavier.

In her living room there sits a chair with a sign on it that says, "Martin Luther King Jr. sat in this chair at our house, October 10, 1964." She now lives with her son, the Rev. D. L. Motley, Jr. in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

A scholarship has been created in her name at Spring Hill College.


She was the devoted wife of a D. L. Motley, Sr., a pastor; they had two sons who are currently pastors in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Atlanta, Georgia, respectively.

When her husband died in 2001 she moved to Jeffersonville, Indiana to be near her son Rev D. L. Motley Jr (pastor of Gilte Edge Baptist Church). Mrs. Motley's brother was minister and civil rights activist, the Rev. Nelson "Fireball" Smith.


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