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Who was the attorney for Rosa Parks and later Martin Luther King at the beginning of the Civil Rights struggle? Fred Gray, just out of law school, had made a commitment to destroy everything segregated in his home state of Alabama when he was in high school. Rosa Parks was only his second case, after Claudette Colvin, a teenager, who nine months earlier had been the first to refuse to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus and in turn inspired Rosa Park.
When Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for violating the segregated seating ordinance, 26-year-old Martin Luther King was chosen to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and 24-year-old Fred Gray also became his and the movement's lawyer. Gray's legal victory in the federal courts ended the boycott 381 days later. Fred Gray won scores of civil rights cases in education, voting rights, transportation, and health. He represented the Freedom Riders, the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers, and the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.
The early history of the civil rights movement comes to life in this story of Fred Gray's life and education, as he tells it to the Republican Roundtable in the summer of 2009. He brings that story up to date, from the symbolism of the election of Barack Obama to the resurgence of racism today.