Gray served as Rosa Parks’ attorney
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 18, 2016) — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes recently helped honor Fred Gray, a prominent civil rights attorney and activist, as the winner of the Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award. The award is given by the National Association of Secretaries of State in February. Grimes is co-chair of the organization’s International Relations Committee.
“Born on December 14, 1930, in Montgomery, Alabama, Fred Gray studied law at Case Western before defending both Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks in the quest to desegregate his home city’s bus lines, later becoming a key figure in African-American voting rights and school integration,” according to Biography.com. “He also filed suit against the government on behalf of the men exploited by the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.”
“Gray handled a number of major, key cases in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1960’s Gomillion v. Lightfoot, he argued before the Supreme Court the unconstitutionality of Tuskegee-based rezoning laws created by local officials that would leave African-Americans out of elections,” states Biography. “In another Supreme Court case, Gray was diligent in his efforts to have the NAACP be able to organize in Alabama after the group was outlawed in the state.
“Gray was also instrumental in leading cases and filing lawsuits that led to the desegregation of all public institutions of higher learning along with the creation of an order requesting the integration of elementary and secondary schools,” states Biography.