Gray will keynote the fifth annual Thurgood Marshall Symposium at the courtroom of The University of South Dakota School of Law on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 4 p.m. with a reception to honor Gray following. On Thursday, Feb. 16, Gray will deliver the 2006 Martin Luther King Jr. campus address at 7:30 p.m. in Slagle Hall Auditorium. Both events are free and open to the public.�
Gray is one of the most accomplished civil rights leaders of our time. His successful defense of Parks is seen by many as the beginning of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Gray made a vow to himself as a young man "to become a lawyer, return to Alabama, and destroy everything segregated I could find." One of Gray's first opportunities came at age 24 when he represented Parks after she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, AL. Shortly after representing Parks, Gray became Martin Luther King Jr.'s attorney.
Gray would go on to win a number of important cases helping to end the injustice of segregation, including the Lee v. Macon case that integrated all state institutions of higher learning in Alabama, and 104 elementary and secondary schools systems in the state.�
"With the passing of Rosa Parks late last year, The University of South Dakota is fortunate to host Fred Gray, who played an integral role in the Rosa Parks chapter of American history, to help our community celebrate the life and contributions of Rosa Parks," said Bruce King, assistant vice president and campus diversity officer at USD.
Gray's visit also provides an opportunity for "the community and the university to interact as a ?communiversity' in an effort to lessen barriers between the community and The U," added King.
In addition to the Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King lectures, Gray will also hold a public book signing on campus at the Oscar Howe Gallery and visit local schools.�