On March 19, 1956, 24-year-old Fred D. Gray rose in a Montgomery, Alabama courthouse as defense attorney for a young pastor who’d been singled out by the authorities as leader of the Black community’s boycott of the city’s segregated bus system.
The two young men were a perfectly matched pair: Just out of graduate school, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had become pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church only two years earlier, about the same time that Gray finished law school in Ohio because no Alabama law school would admit a Black student.
The charge against King was conspiring to interfere with lawful business. But Gray and King put segregation itself on trial, setting Gray on a path to argue before the Supreme Court and launching Dr. King as the civil rights movement’s most prominent voice.
In collaboration with bestselling author Dan Abrams, in Alabama V. King, Fred D. Gray takes readers inside the genesis of a movement that reshaped our nation, into the courtroom where the first battle was fought and into the character of the man who led it.
The Streicker Center is honored to welcome him in conversation with Dan Abrams for a vivid reminder of the America of 1956, of the stunning bravery of young activists and the violence used against them.
A storied civil rights attorney, Fred D. Gray not only represented Dr. King but Rosa Parks, the Freedom Riders, the plaintiffs in the Tuskegee Experiment lawsuit, and numerous school desegregation lawsuits. A former President of the National Bar Association, he was the first Black President of the Alabama State Bar.
Dan Abrams is the chief legal analyst for ABC News, host of both Dan Abrams Live on NewsNation and The Dan Abrams Show on SiriusXM. He is the co-author of four prior books about historical trials, involving Presidents Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John Adams and Jack Ruby, all multi-week New York Times bestsellers.