Fred D. Gray
About Fred D. Gray
Fred D. Gray is one of the nation’s leading civil rights attorneys. At the age of twenty-four, he was the legal counsel for Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Mr. Gray’s represented the Freedom Riders, the Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers, and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study participants. He also won countless school desegregation and voting rights lawsuits. His work has changed social fabric of America.
Among Mr. Gray’s most notable cases are City of Montgomery v. Rosa Parks, State of Alabama v. Martin Luther King Jr., Aurelia A. Browder, et al v. W.A. Gayle, et al (integrated the buses in the City of Montgomery), Williams v. Wallace (protected the marchers from Selma to Montgomery after being beaten on Bloody Sunday), and Lee v. Macon County Board of Education (integrated all state institutions of higher learning under the Alabama State Board of Education, and 104 of the then 121 elementary and secondary school systems in the state).
One of the first African Americans to serve in the Alabama Legislature since reconstruction, Mr. Gray was also the first African American elected as president of the Alabama State Bar Association in 2002. He served as the 43rd president of the National Bar Association and is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, American College of Trial Lawyers and International Society of Barristers. Mr. Gray is the recipient of numerous awards including the Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit from the Washington Bar Association, Harvard University Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion; the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award and the Federal Bar Association’s Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award.
In June 2012, Lipscomb University awarded Mr. Gray an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during a gala event as part of the 32nd annual Thomas H. Olbricht Christian Scholars’ Conference. Four years later in 2016, Lipscomb announced that they would rename its Institute for Law, Justice & Society in honor of Mr. Gray. The Fred D. Gray Institute for Law, Justice & Society at Lipscomb University recognizes Mr. Gray’s stated lifelong commitment to “eradicate racism” through the law. Launched in spring 2007, the Institute, housed in Lipscomb’s College of Leadership & Public Service, is based on the principle that legal change is one of the surest means to effect social change. Students are encouraged to consider America’s legal system from a multidisciplinary perspective to get a fuller understanding of its mechanisms, practice, and consequences.
In his book Bus Ride to Justice, Mr. Gray spoke of the new partnership with Lipscomb University saying
“As I looked back over the events of June 2012, I am really glad I agreed to accept. The event as a whole was one of the most fulfilling honors I have received, and I have received honorary degrees from institutions nationwide, both church related and otherwise.”
“Lipscomb is an institution with which I had a relationship that began in segregation. Their conferring an honorary degree on me, and the way they did it, was an act of reconciliation for both me and for the university. It was a powerful event that spoke not only to my life and work but the changes that have occurred at Lipscomb University, in the church, and in society.”
Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center
Mr. Gray is the principal founder of the Tuskegee History Center, which serves as a memorial to the participants of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and educates the public on the contributions made in the fields of human and civil rights by Native Americans, Americans of African descent, and Americans of European descent. With a special focus on the extraordinary human and civil rights history of Macon County, Alabama, the museum is one of the best small museums in the United States.
Students of the Institute regularly travel to Tuskegee to visit with Mr. Gray and assist in the work of the Tuskegee History Center.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Gray!
Mr. Gray turned 90 on December 14, 2020. We celebrate his hopefulness, his determination, and his willingness to believe that the best of who we are wins out. Mr. Gray is a man born in division and segregation who believes in equality and justice. When he was a young man, he set out to “destroy everything segregated” and is still at it today. He is a true champion of justice and an inspiration to millions of Americans.
If you would like to give a gift to support Mr. Gray's legacy, we suggest giving to the Fred D. Gray Scholarship. The scholarship honors the legacy of Fred D. Gray and is awarded to Lipscomb students who are working to become the next generation of Fred Grays in civic leadership. Established in 2017, the Fred D. Gray scholarship honors and helps Lipscomb students pursue their education in the world of law.
You may also choose to give directly to the Tuskegee History Center. If you would like to give to the Tuskegee History Center, please indicate in the “Special Instructions” section. Otherwise, your gift will go to the Fred D. Gray Scholarship.
If you have any questions, please email Kimberly McCall.