Fred Gray discusses landmark legal case at ADAH

Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 7:13 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Thursday, civil rights attorney and activist Fred Gray discussed the landmark legal case Alabama v. King at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

“That has been the history of my life, helping to make the impossible possible,” said Fred Gray.

Throughout his career, Gray has challenged inequality.

“My goal was to destroy segregation wherever I found it,” said Gray.

Today dozens filled this auditorium at the Alabama Department of Archives and History for the Food For Thought lecture series. At 92, the Montgomery native and Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) graduate continues to practice law in Montgomery and Tuskegee. He provided insight into the landmark case Alabama v. King. In 1956, Gray, at just 24 years old, became the defense attorney for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — who became the face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This case is credited with launching the civil rights movement.

“This trial, Alabama vs. Kin,g began as just another step on a long climb to the promised land of justice for all. And we haven’t reached that promised land yet,” said Gray.

Last summer, President Joe Biden awarded Gray the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The medal is on display at the Alabama Department of Archives & History, where Gray has served as a trustee for 20 years.

“If you got a copy of Alabama versus King, and as you read that testimony, you can almost feel how they felt. Many of them were not educated, people. They were people who had grown up knowing their place, second-class citizens for life. But finally, given the opportunity to be heard, they stood up,” said Gray.

He is co-author of the 2022 publication “Alabama v. King: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Criminal Trial That Launched the Civil Rights Movement.” Following his presentation, Gray signed copies of the book.

Anyone who was unable to attend the event can watch the program on ADAH’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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