When Rosa Parks refused on the afternoon of Dec. 1, 1955, to give up her bus seat so that a white man could sit, it is unlikely that she fully realized the forces she had set into motion and the controversy that would soon swirl around her.

Fred Gray

posted on: January 29, 2013
in: Uncategorized
Attorney Fred Gray has his back to the camera, with Attorney General (and later governor) Albert Patterson shown standing in front of a flag-draped wall. (From Montgomery Advertiser files)

Attorney Fred Gray has his back to the camera, with Attorney General (and later governor) Albert Patterson shown standing in front of a flag-draped wall. (From Montgomery Advertiser files)

Gray made history 50 years ago when he successfully argued the U.S. Supreme Court case that led to the desegregation of buses in Montgomery.That case was called Browder v. Gayle/ He made history yet again in 2002, when he was installed as the first black president of the Alabama State Bar Association.

Gray was not only the attorney for Rosa Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He was their friend.

Gray decided in his junior year of college to pursue a career in law. He could not attend the then-segregated University of Alabama, although he later would argue a case that opened the doors once closed to him. When he got ready to go to law school, a college instructor recommended that he go to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. So he headed to Cleveland.

Vowing to destroy everything segregated he could find once he returned to Alabama, he got his chance to battle segregation in 1955. When Parks was arrested, Gray already had been the attorney for Claudette Colvin, who had been arrested several months before under similar circumstances. He later filed suit in the famous Browder v. Gayle case.

In 1970, he became one of the first two blacks elected to the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction. He served until 1974. The National Bar Association, a group that black lawyers founded in 1923 when the American and state bar associations didn’t allow blacks, elected Gray as its president in 1985.