Civil rights attorney Fred Gray honored with Medal of Freedom

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 8:08 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Fred Gray said when he was growing up in Montgomery, he never envisioned being honored at the White House in his lifetime.

On Tuesday, July 7, President Joe Biden awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the former attorney of Martin Luther Jr. and Rosa Parks.

The 91-year-old said he accepted the award on behalf of all those he represented in civil rights cases.

“If a person growing up as I did could, with a lot of help, be able to get the award, I would hope it would be an encouragement to all others,” Gray said.

Gray reflected on his long career Thursday, and said he was grateful to work alongside not just the civil rights icons everyone knows, but also others who took actions just as brave, but never made it into the history books.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed traveled to Washington to honor Gray. He said Gray’s legal work has had a profound impact.

“I feel the impact is felt not just in Montgomery, but throughout this entire country,” Reed said. “His legal work lead to the desegregation of public transportation in Montgomery, but it set the foundation for lawsuits that were to follow.”

Gray was instrumental in ending segregation in Alabama’s public schools. He also played a significant role the Supreme Court striking down racial gerrymandering in the U.S and winning a case on behalf of those involved in the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.

Gray said it’s important younger generations learn, not just what he accomplished, but the fact that there were “hard laws” in this country keeping people from being treated as equals.

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