By Brandon Moseley

Famed Civil Rights Movement Attorney and former State Rep. Fred Gray (D-Montgomery) will soon celebrate his 91st birthday. Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL07) spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to urge President Joseph R. Biden (D) to award Gray the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"I rise to honor a true American hero and one of our nation's most distinguished civil rights lawyers, Attorney Fred Gray Sr., as he celebrates his 91st birthday on Dec. 14, 2021," Sewell said. "A native of Alabama's 7th Congressional District, Attorney Gray was born in Montgomery and came of age during the height of the Jim Crow segregation era.

"One of Alabama's first Black lawyers, he successfully litigated groundbreaking civil rights cases, representing the likes of Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, Rev. Martin Luther King, and even our own John Lewis and those protestors that dared to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Sewell called Gray a trailblazer and said the work he did lead to the desegregation of public buses and Alabama schools.

"Attorney Gray's long and accomplished career fought back against injustice wherever it existed," said Sewell. "To paraphrase one of his clients, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Attorney Gray was a 'drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness.'"

In February, Sewell sent a letter to Biden requesting that Attorney Gray be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In addition to representing King and Rosa Parks in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Lewis and the other Selma voting rights marchers, Gray brought numerous school desegregation cases around Alabama and neighboring states. He served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1970 to 1974. Gray brought the famous lawsuit representing the victims of the Tuskegee Experiment. He has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court including 1960's Gomillion v. Lightfoot that desegregated local elections in Tuskegee. He is a former preacher at the Newtown Baptist Church. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated Gray for a federal judgeship, but withdrew the nomination after there was a backlash. In 1985, he became president of the National Bar Association. In 2002, he became the first Black president of the Alabama Bar Association.

In 1995, Gray published his autobiography, "Bus Ride to Justice: The Life and Works of Fred Gray."