Tribute to Fred Grayby Senator Jeff Sessions
Posted on 2015-12-14
SESSIONS. Mr. President, today I wish to recognize the
life and accomplishments of civil rights attorney Fred Gray, Sr., of
Fred Gray was born in Montgomery, AL, on December 14, 1930. He attended the Nashville Christian Institute and received a baccalaureate degree from the then-Alabama State College for Negroes. From there, he went on to receive a law degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, OH. Mr. Gray passed the bar examination and returned to his home town of Montgomery to establish a law office. He dedicated himself to the goal of ``destroying everything segregated he could find.'' He also began preaching at the Holt Street Church of Christ.
During the 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement, Mr. Gray worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., E.D. Nixon, and other leaders of the movement. He represented Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, who were charged with disorderly conduct for refusing to seat themselves in the rear of segregated city buses. Mr. Gray also successfully defended Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., against tax evasion charges.
In addition, he represented the Montgomery Improvement Association during the more than yearlong Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, which ultimately led to the United States Supreme Court case Browder v. Gayle. This case was filed by Mr. Gray. Additionally, Mr. Gray filed and argued the historic and much-cited case of Gomillion v. Lightfoot before the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned State redistricting of Tuskegee, AL. After this case, Mr. Gray continued to lead legal efforts to desegregate schools in Alabama.
In 1970, Mr. Gray was one of the first African Americans elected as a State legislator in Alabama. However, he did not allow his new role to prevent him from continuing to represent local Alabamians in the judicial system.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Gray represented plaintiffs in the class- action lawsuit regarding the Federal Tuskegee syphilis study and succeeded in securing appropriate damages and restitutions for 72 study survivors. As a result of efforts led by Mr. Gray, President Clinton invited the study survivors and their families to a ceremony at the White House, where he officially apologized for the actions of the Federal Government regarding the study.
In 2002, Fred Gray became the first African-American president of the Alabama Bar Association. Mr. Gray has spent his life working to achieve equal justice and liberty for the citizens of Alabama. His dedication to the civil rights movement is unequaled, and we are all grateful for the tireless work he has done on behalf of all Americans.