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Celebrating Black History Month: Civil Rights Attorney Fred D. Gray

As we celebrate Black History Month, it's essential to reflect on the rich history of contributions made by Black attorneys, especially in Alabama. Their legacy, deeply interwoven with the civil rights movement, serves as a beacon of inspiration for us all.

Despite their profound impact, the narratives of trailblazing Black lawyers have often been overlooked. These individuals faced formidable obstacles, risking their lives simply by pursuing their chosen profession. 

This Black History Month, we honor their courage, resilience, and unwavering commitment to justice by highlighting just one Alabama trailblazer, attorney Fred Gray. May his story and others inspire us to continue striving for diversity and inclusion in our legal community and beyond.

Fred D. Gray, Sr., Attorney & Trailblazer

Fred Gray is a prominent Alabama civil rights attorney whose clients have included Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. When he opened his Montgomery law office in 1954, Gray was one of the few African American attorneys in the state. His career blossomed in the context of the civil rights movement, as he played a pivotal role in dismantling legal segregation in the state.

In 2022, Mr. Gray received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Fred Gray's Service to the Legal Profession

Mr. Gray served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1970-1974 as one of the first two African Americans elected to the Alabama legislature since Reconstruction. He served as the 43rd President of the National Bar Association from 1985-1986. He also served as the first African American President of the Alabama State Bar from 2002-2003. As President of the Alabama State Bar, he conceived the theme, “Lawyers Render Service,” which was subsequently adopted as the official motto of the Alabama State Bar.

“For 43 years, I have had the honor and distinct pleasure of working with this country’s NUMBER ONE civil rights attorney of all time – Fred D. Gray.  He is a trial lawyer who has worked hard not only to further his career, but the career of many African American lawyers in the state of Alabama. He is totally unselfish with his time to promote African American attorneys and all attorneys in this state.  He is 93 years old and continues to have an active schedule of speaking engagements across the nation.  In December of 2023, Texas Tech Law School created an Endowed Chair in the name of Attorney Fred D. Gray. What an amazing, Christian individual I have the opportunity to practice law with on a daily basis.”

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