Do Savannnah

Noted civil rights attorney Fred Gray to address MLK Freedom Gala in Savannah

  • Civil rights attorney Fred Gray
 

Noted civil rights attorney Fred Gray to address MLK Freedom Gala in Savannah

28 Jan 2018

Fred Gray, Esq., the attorney who represented Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and who also represented victims in the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study in 1972, will be the keynote speaker for the MLK Jr. Observance Day Association’s annual MLK Freedom Gala.
 
The black-tie event will be March 31 at the Hyatt Regency Savannah, beginning with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m. and dinner and program at 7 p.m. The evening will be capped with music and dancing. Tickets are $75.
 
Gray's legal career spans more than 60 years. Out of law school less than a year, Gray began a dynamic civil rights career in 1954. His first civil rights case was 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, Ala., in March 1955. In December 1955, he represented 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. He was also Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s first civil rights attorney.
 
"We are delighted to have such a dynamic and accomplished speaker who can bring historical context to the role that Dr. King and others played in the Civil Rights Movement," said Carolyn Blackshear, president of the MLK Association. "We believe Attorney Gray's presentation will align with our mission to enlighten the community about Dr. King."
 
The list of civil rights cases Gray has won can be found in most constitutional law textbooks. They include: Browder v. Gayle, the case that integrated Montgomery City buses in 1956; Gomillion v. Lightfoot decided in 1960, the landmark case that opened the door for redistricting and reapportioning legislative bodies across the nation, laying the foundation for the concept "one man, one vote;” Williams v. Wallace, decided in 1965, a class action suit brought by African Americans against Alabama Gov. George Wallace and the state, and resulted in the order that protected marchers as they walked from Selma to Montgomery to present grievances as a result of being unable to vote. The publicity of these actions led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
 
In addition, Gray filed suits that integrated all state institutions of higher learning in Alabama, and 104 of the then-121 elementary and secondary school systems in the state. He served as 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 1970-1974, Gray was one of the first African Americans to serve in the Alabama Legislature since reconstruction. He served as the 43rd president of the National Bar Association from 1985-86, when he initiated that association’s Hall of Fame (becoming an inductee in 1995), and was the recipient of the Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit from the Washington Bar Association.
 
Currently serving as the senior managing shareholder in the law firm of Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray, Gray & Nathanson P.C., with offices in Montgomery and Tuskegee, Gray continues to serve clients.
 
A graduate of Case Western Reserve Law School, the university named Gray as the Fletcher Reed Andrews Graduate of the Year in 1985, elected him to the Society of Benchers in 1986, and presented him the highest honor the law school bestows on its graduates, the Law School Centennial Medal, in 1993. In 1996, the American Bar Association bestowed Gray with its "Spirit of Excellence Award,” which celebrates the achievements of lawyers of color and their contributions to the legal profession.
 
Gray is a graduate of Alabama State University, and he is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.
 
Tickets for the gala can be purchased at the MLK Jr. Observance Day Association’s office, 1206 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., or online at mlkingsavannah.com.
 
IF YOU GO
What: MLK Freedom Gala with civil rights attorney Fred Gray
When: 6 p.m. March 31
Where: Hyatt Regency Savannah
Cost: $75

 

Sections: 
Top