Fred D. Gray, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, is a landmark-setting civil rights lawyer. Educated at the Nashville Christian Institute, Alabama State University and Case Western Reserve University, Gray's legal career spans a time period of over 60 years.
Enthusiastic, energetic and out of law school less than a year, he began a dynamic civil rights career in 1954. His first civil rights case was the representation of Claudette Colvin, a 15-year old African American high school student who refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1955. In December 1955 he represented Mrs. Rosa Parks who was arrested because she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott, City of Montgomery v. Rosa Parks. He was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s first civil rights attorney.
Gray filed suits that integrated all state institutions of higher learning in the State of Alabama, and 104 of the then 121 elementary and secondary schools systems in the state, Lee v. Macon. He was counsel in preserving and protecting the rights of persons involved in the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study in 1972, the case of Pollard v. United States of America. In July of 1993, he argued on behalf of Alabama State University, the higher education case, John F. Knight, Jr. v. State of Alabama, et. al., U.S. District Court for the Eleventh Circuit. The court held in that case that there are still vestiges of racial discrimination in higher education in Alabama.
As an author, Gray wrote "Bus Ride to Justice" first released in 1995, Revised Edition released in 2013, was previewed at the Jimmy Carter Center and broadcast on C-Span Book TV. "The Tuskegee Syphilis Study" was released in May 1998. He also wrote "The Sullivan Case: A Direct Product of the Civil Rights Movement," a review for Case Western Reserve Law Review.
Gray has lectured on local, state, national and international levels. He was Practitioner-In-Residence at Pepperdine University; lecturer at Case Western Reserve University, School of Law; Tenneco Distinguished Speaker, University of Houston; guest lecturer for the Harvard Law Forum Speaker Series, Harvard Law School, and facilitator for the Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, Virginia, and University of Hull, United Kingdom. In 2000, Gray was appointed to the Charles Hamilton Houston Chair in Law at The North Carolina Central University School of Law.
One of the first African Americans to serve in the Alabama Legislature since reconstruction, he served from 1970-1974. He received the Capitol Press Corps Award for Best Orator in the House of Representatives in 1972 and was a member of the National Society of State Legislators from 1970-1974. His love and commitment in promoting the works of the National Bar Association gave him recognition as its 43rd President, 1985-86. He initiated the NBA Hall of Fame (becoming an inductee in August of 1995), and was the recipient of the Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit from the Washington Bar Association. Gray is the first person of color elected as President of the Alabama State Bar Association and served as its 126th President for the year 2002-2003. As president, he was instrumental in the Board of Bar Commissioners initiating the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame. Inductions are now held annually.
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