Meet the author Fred Gray, and listen to a conversation about his book, Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System with commentary by Drew Days, III.
First published in 1995, this best-selling autobiography by acclaimed civil rights attorney Fred D. Gray appears now in a newly revised edition that updates Gray’s remarkable career (at age 82, he is still practicing law) of “destroying everything segregated that I could find.” Of particular interest to historians and civil rights scholars will be the details Gray reveals for the first time about Rosa Parks’s 1955 arrest. Gray speaks with authority because he was the young lawyer who represented not only Parks but also Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Improvement Association that organized to run the 382-day bus boycott. Gray is the last survivor of that inner circle and, now that Mrs. Parks is dead, he speaks candidly here about the strategic reasons why she was presented as a demure, random victim of Jim Crow policies when in reality she was a committed, strong-willed activist who was willing to be arrested so there could be a test case to challenge segregation laws.
Gray’s remarkable career also includes landmark civil rights cases in voting rights, education, housing, employment, law enforcement, jury selection, and more. He is widely considered one of the most distinguished and successful civil rights attorneys of the 20th century and his cases are studied in law schools around the world. In addition he was an ordained Church of Christ minister and was one of the first blacks elected to the Alabama legislature in the modern era. Initially denied entrance to Alabama’s segregated law school, he became the first black president of the Alabama bar association. His autobiography has been updated, reedited, re-indexed, and includes new photographs.
Reception to follow book discussion in the Alumni Reading Room.