March 15, 2018

Former Division Chair Wins Spirit of Excellence Award

Former Division Chair Wins Spirit of Excellence Award

Former Division Chair Major General (ret.) Kenneth D. Gray was a recipient of a Spirit of Excellence Award at the Midyear Meeting in Vancouver. The Spirit of Excellence Awards recognize recipients for their commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. Gray was the first African-American general in the history of the active Army Judge Advocate General's Corps. He received his B.A. degree in political science from West Virginia State College in 1966 and was commissioned a second lieutenant from the Reserve Officers Training Corps. In 1969, he received his J.D. from West Virginia University's College of Law, where he was the only African-American student for the entire three years he attended. After law school, Gray served on active duty in the JAG Corps and eventually became the Army deputy judge advocate general. Gray graduated with honors from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Following his military career, Gray served as vice president for student affairs at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

At the luncheon, Gray recalled what it was like when he got involved in working for diversity. "Following a tour in Vietnam, I was asked to recruit minorities and women to the JAG Corps. At that time, there were 8 women and 16 African-American lawyers out of about 1,600," he said. "Today, there are about 6.7 percent African Americans and 28 percent women out of 1,850."

He credited those who came before him, "many who did not have the opportunity to achieve the success that I was able to achieve. They actually paved the way for my journey by the sacrifices, challenges and obstacles that they had to overcome," and said when he faced obstacles he drew strength from his parents, teachers, ROTC officers and law school professors.

You can see Gray's remarks upon receiving the award here.