Civil Rights Attorney Fred Gray Honored With NAACP LDF’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Civil Rights Attorney Fred Gray Honored With NAACP LDF’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Fred Gray is one of the most prominent figures in civil rights. Though he may not be as widely celebrated as some other notable names, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund recently showed him the love he deserves.

Last week, he was honored with the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award for his heroic work fighting some of the most integral legal battles in Black American history. Known by many as the “Chief Counsel” of the civil rights era, Gray was instrumental in the Supreme Court case that followed the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and 1956, which eventually desegregated the bus system. “I have received many awards, but none of these awards…means to me as much as this award coming from the Legal Defense Fund here in honor of Thurgood Marshall,” said Gray during his acceptance speech at the organization’s 35th National Equal Justice Awards Dinner in New York.

Today, the 92-year-old Gray is more proud than ever of the work he’s committed his life to.

MONTGOMERY, AL – OCTOBER 26: Civil Rights attorney Fred Gray speaks about former client Claudette Colvin, at the Montgomery County Family Court on October 26, 2021, in Montgomery, Alabama, shortly after Colvin petitioned for her juvenile record to be expunged. (Photo by Julie Bennett/Getty Images)


“I became a lawyer in Montgomery, Alabama when I saw we were having problems on the buses,” he said. “They said lawyers help people solve problems, so I decided to become a lawyer, and not just a lawyer anywhere; I wanted to become a lawyer in Alabama and destroy everything segregated I could find, and in 67 years I’ve done that.” According to BET, Gray was also the attorney for the men purposely infected with syphilis and untreated by government doctors who studied the disease for over 40 years, also known as the Tuskegee experiment. He won a $10 million settlement for the survivors and their families in 1974.

Working in tandem with the Legal Defense Fund, Gray has tried some of the most meaningful cases in history and was honored by President Joe Biden last year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “When Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, John Lewis, and other giants of our history needed a lawyer for their fight for freedom, you know who they called? They called a guy named Fred Gray, that’s who they called,” the President said during the ceremony. “One of the most important civil rights lawyers in our history, Fred’s legal brilliance and strategy desegregated schools and secured the right to vote.”

We love seeing our heroes get their flowers while they can still smell them!