COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Famed Civil Rights Attorney Fred Gray spoke tonight at MUW as part of the ” Gordy Honors College Forum” Speakers Series.
Fred Gray is a native of Montgomery, Alabama. At the age of 24, he began his own law practice. Among his early clients, Civil Rights icon, Rosa Parks. Parks famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in the 1950s.
“I was involved in the planning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, representing Rosa Parks, recommending Dr. King to the community. These persons went ahead and actually planning for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, where we were able to get 40,000 African Americans to cooperate with us, which resulted in the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement,” says Gray.
Gray says the fruits of their labor can be seen in politics today.
“It resulted in thousands of African Americans and other minorities becoming registered voters and thousands of African Americans including in the state of Mississippi, now holding public office which they did not prior to that time. We started the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We didn’t start out that we were going to have a Civil Rights movement. We saw a problem, a problem that needed to be solved. Someone said, well let’s see if we can’t solve it and came up with a plan, executed the plan and we had the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, which resulted in the election of a President,” says Gray.
As someone whose life’s work has changed the face of our nation, Gray offers this advice to those who may follow in his footsteps.
“So when you see a problem and you can see them right here in Columbus, you don’t have to wait on somebody else to start it. Nobody told me to become a lawyer and decide to destroy everything segregated I could find. You see the problem, talk to some other people about it, see if you can come up with a solution and you can’t tell, but you may just start another whole movement that will result in changing the landscape of the nation,” says Gray.
Gray handled other landmark cases like Williams vs. Wallace, which resulted in court-ordered protection for marchers as they walked from Selma to Montgomery.
Gray also signed copies of his latest book is entitled “Bus Ride to Justice”.