On July 17, the NAACP will honor civil rights attorney Fred Gray, NewSouth author of Bus Ride for Justice, with the William Robert Ming Advocacy Award for his long-standing civil rights contributions.
Gray, born in Montgomery, Alabama, grew up to become one of only two black lawyers in Montgomery in the 1950s. When his friend Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for violating the segregated seating ordinance on a Montgomery bus, twenty-six-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., was chosen to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and twenty-four-year-old Fred Gray became his–and the movement���s–lawyer. Gray���s legal victory in the federal courts ended the boycott 381 days later. Over the four decades since, Gray has won scores of civil rights cases in education, voting rights, transportation, health, and other areas. He represented the Freedom Riders, the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers, the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, and many more.
Gray spoke about the NAACP’s award, to be presented in Washington, DC, in a Montgomery Advertiser article earlier last week: “I became a lawyer to do the kind of work the NAACP did, and it’s a great honor to receive this award,” he said. “They have been with me throughout my entire career and given me the opportunity to defend them so they could be able to do business in this state.”
Fred Gray chronicled his civil rights career in his gripping memoir Bus Ride for Justice; he has also chronicled his work with victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Both of these books are available directly from NewSouth, from Amazon.com or from your favorite local or online book retailer. Limited signed copies of Bus Ride for Justice are also available from the NewSouth Bookstore, toll-free (866) 639-7688.