Spring 2004

Fred Gray to Receive 2004 ABA Thurgood Marshall Award

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Fred Gray of Tuskegee, Ala., will receive the ABA's 2004 Thurgood Marshall Award in recognition of his work in advancing civil rights and equality under the law for all Americans. The award will be presented at the Section's Thurgood Marshall Award Dinner on Saturday, Aug. 7, during the 2004 ABA Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

"We are privileged to honor Fred Gray on the fiftieth anniversary not just of Brown v. Board of Education, but also on the fiftieth anniversary of his admission to the practice of law," said Section Chair Joan F. Kessler. "From the start of his legal career, Fred Gray has carried on the proud tradition of Thurgood Marshall. It is fitting that he receive the Thurgood Marshall Award to recognize those fifty years of remarkable dedication and effective use of the legal system to eliminate racial discrimination."

A graduate of the Nashville Christian Institute, Alabama State University, and Case Western Reserve University, Gray currently is a senior partner in the law firm of Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray & Nathanson, with offices in Montgomery and Tuskegee, Ala. He perhaps is best known for representing Rosa Parks after she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955, and for serving as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s first civil rights attorney. He played integral roles in many cases that challenged racial discrimination in voting, housing, and other areas of American life.

Gray served as President of the National Bar Association in 1985-86, became a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1999, and was selected for a three-year term as a member of the Executive Council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents in 2003. In 2002, he was the first person of color elected as President of the Alabama State Bar Association. In 1996, he received the ABA "Spirit of Excellence Award," celebrating the achievements of lawyers of color and their contributions to the legal profession, and he has received numerous other awards for his professional excellence and contributions to social justice.

"Fred Gray's contributions to the advancement of civil rights in this country exemplify the spirit of the Thurgood Marshall Award," said Georgina C. Verdugo, Chair of the Thurgood Marshall Award Committee. "We are particularly delighted to honor him during a year that marks the 40th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education."

For more information about the award or the dinner, call the Section office at 202/662-1030.

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