Civil Rights Pioneer Fred Gray to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Avenue Dedication Ceremony

Fred Gray poses with the street renamed in his honor at the Fred D. Gray Avenue dedication ceremony, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Montgomery, Ala. The civil-rights attorney was honored with his name on the road previously known as W. Jeff Davis Avenue. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

The White House has announced that attorney Fred Gray, who has played a pivotal role in civil rights in Alabama and the nation, will be among those to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

President Biden will present the medal, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor, to Gray and 16 others at a White House ceremony on July 7.

In its announcement, the White House notes that “Gray was one of the first black members of the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction. As an attorney, he represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP and Martin Luther King, who called him “the chief counsel for the protest movement.”

The White House says the Presidential Medal of Freedom is presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.


Gray had been nominated by Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-7th District). She released a statement to share her excitement that Gray will be honored:


“I among others have fought hard to ensure that Attorney Gray receives rightful recognition for his groundbreaking contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, and I am overjoyed that President Biden will be giving him his flowers as he lives.  Congratulations Attorney Gray and may your legacy of service and sacrifice continue to be a part of our nation’s story for generations to come,” she said.

“I want to thank President Joseph R. Biden for his decision to award me the Presidential Medal of Freedom, indeed a high honor for which I am most appreciative,” Gray said in a statement. “Thank you, Congresswoman Sewell for nominating me for this award. Thanks to many persons from all walks of life who sent communication to the President requesting that he bestow this honor.”

Gray is 91 years old and still practices law in Tuskegee.


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