Alabama Academy of Honor


Frank David Gray

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2005.



Montgomery native Fred David Gray is a nationally recognized civil rights attorney, celebrated lecturer, successful author, and former legislator. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1970, he was one of the first African Americans to serve in the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction. Currently a resident of Tuskegee, Mr. Gray is the senior partner in the law firm of Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray & Nathanson.

Mr. Gray was educated at the Nashville Christian Institute, Alabama State University, and Case Western Reserve University. After earning his law degree in 1954, the energetic and enthusiastic young attorney was thrust into the national spotlight in 1955 when he represented Rosa Parks after her arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus. The incident sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Mr. Gray went on to serve as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, first civil rights attorney.

With a legal career that has spanned more than half a century, Mr. Gray's landmark civil rights cases can be found in most constitutional law textbooks, including: Browder v. Gayle, which integrated the buses in the city of Montgomery, 1956; Gomillion v. Lightfoot, which opened the door for redistricting and reapportioning legislative bodies across the nation and laid the foundation for the concept of “one man, one vote,” 1960; Williams v. Wallace, which resulted in the court's ordering the State of Alabama to protect marchers as they walked from Selma to Montgomery to present grievances as a result of being unable to vote, 1965; Mitchell v. Johnson, one of the first civil actions brought to remedy systematic exclusion of blacks from jury service, 1966; and Lee v. Macon, which integrated all state institutions of higher learning in Alabama, as well as most elementary and secondary school systems. Mr. Gray also served as counsel in preserving and protecting the rights of persons involved in the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study. He has been the moving force in the establishment of the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center, which, when fully developed, will serve not only as a memorial to the participants of the Study, but will also educate the public on the contributions made in the field of human and civil rights by Native Americans and Americans of African and European descent.

Mr. Gray holds numerous honorary degrees. He is a member of the Boards of Trustees of Case Western Reserve University, Faulkner University, and the Alabama Department of Archives and History; and of the Board of Directors of Alabama Exchange Bank. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of the International Society of Barristers, and is currently serving a three-year term on the Executive Council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents. He is the first person of color to be elected president of the Alabama Bar Association, serving as its 126th president in 2002-03. Mr. Gray has been recognized with numerous awards, some of the more recent being the American Bar Association's “Spirit of Excellence Award” in 1996; the Minority Caucus of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's “Soaring Eagles Award” in 2003; Harvard University Law School's “Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion;” the American Bar Association's “Thurgood Marshall Award;” and the Federal Bar Association's “Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award,” all in 2004.

Mr. Gray is married to Carol Porter of Cleveland, Ohio; he has four children and six grandchildren. Mr. Gray is an elder of the Tuskegee Church of Christ.