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Attorney for MLK, Rosa Parks, to receive honorary degree from University of Alabama

Avenue Dedication Ceremony
Vasha Hunt/AP
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FR171624 AP
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)

A civil rights lawyer who once fought to desegregate the University of Alabama is now receiving an honorary degree from the school. Attorney Fred Gray of Tuskegee will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree during the law school's graduation ceremony this weekend. The 91-year-old Gray once helped represent Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood in their attempt to desegregate the university. They enrolled as the first Black students in 1963 after then-Gov. George C. Wallace staged his "stand in the schoolhouse door" against racial integration. Doctor Martin Luther King, junior was another of Gray’s clients. An interview with this pioneering civil rights attorney led off Alabama Public Radio’s international award-winning documentary on the fiftieth anniversary of MLK’s assassination. “If you did not know him, and had never heard anything about him, and were to go into a room where he was seated, he was a person who would not monopolize a conversation,” said Gray of King.

“I think initially most people heard it on the media, and those who heard it, told other people about it, so
it spread like wildfire. There wasn’t any question about that. It hit me when he was killed, because I knew we had lost a great leader," Gray recalled of King's death.

Click below to hear “The King of Alabama.”

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