Civil Rights Attorney Fred Gray’s Name Replaces Jeff Davis Ave. In Montgomery

The name of Confederate President Jefferson Davis came down from a street in Montgomery and was replaced by the name of civil rights attorney, Fred D. Gray.

Growing up, attorney Fred Gray got on the school bus each day and passed a street sign near his home that marked W. Jeff Davis Avenue. Now 90 years old, Gray still practices law in Tuskegee but grew up on the street during the Jim Crow era and went on to represent Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. In a poetic and historic ceremony, his name replaced the Confederate president’s, the Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement now paying tribute to one of the heroes of the struggle instead.

The unveiling took place at 11 a.m. October 26 in a public ceremony. The ceremony’s site was only a few yards from Attorney Gray’s childhood home on formerly West Jeff Davis Avenue, now Fred D. Gray Avenue.

The renaming process began in December of 2020, and the Montgomery City Council unanimously voted in early October for the change. Some argue this was decades late.

“But it is never ever untimely to pay tribute to those who have served us well,” Vanzetta Penn McPherson, United States Magistrate Judge (Ret.), said.

From the start of the renaming process to the unveiling of Fred Gray’s name, Mayor Steven Reed said  it hasn’t always been easy but crucial for the City of Montgomery to move forward.

“Many of the things that we now benefit from did not just come with the turn of a page,” Reed said. “It came with action, tenacity, perseverance, and dedication.”

Gray is thankful to the city for the recognition and pledges to keep fighting for equal justice under the law.

“Your bold act of recognition, in my opinion, demonstrates that the government of the city of Montgomery, Alabama is in good hands,” Gray said.

Mayor Reed said the recognition of Gray isn’t stopping here. He wants to take it all the way to Washington and ask the White House to award gray with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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