Fred D. Gray's Presidential Medal of Freedom On View at the Department of Archives and History through February 2023


Press Release - For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Georgia Ann Hudson

(334) 353-3312 or



Montgomery, AL (12/14/2022) – Today, the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) placed on public view the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to Alabama attorney Fred D. Gray on July 7, 2022. The medal is displayed in the ADAH’s main lobby and will be on view through February 2023. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Born in Montgomery on December 14, 1930, Gray graduated from Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) at the age of seventeen and enrolled at Western Reserve University Law School in Ohio. The young attorney returned to Alabama determined to contest the legality of segregation laws. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he represented Rosa Parks and served as legal advisor for the Montgomery Improvement Association and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., its president. Gray was lead counsel in the landmark 1956 case Browder v. Gayle, which overturned segregation on public transportation in Alabama. Building on this precedent, Gray challenged inequality in dozens of cases over the next several decades. He continues to practice law today at the age of ninety-two. Gray has been a Trustee of the ADAH since 2003.  

Gray accepted the Medal of Freedom on behalf of his courageous clients and fellow civil rights activists. “We have made substantial progress but the struggle for the elimination of racism and for equal justice continues. I hope this award will encourage other Americans to do what they can to complete the task so that all American citizens will be treated the same, equally and fairly, in accordance with the Constitution,” said Gray.

"The Civil Rights Movement was an achievement by people from many walks of life making contributions to a greater good. Key among those was the role of legal architect of the movement. We are extremely fortunate that Mr. Gray is with us still, exhorting us to continue the work of creating a more perfect Union. The opportunity to display his Presidential Medal of Freedom is a tremendous honor for the Archives,” said Steve Murray, ADAH director. 

 The Alabama Department of Archives and History is the state’s government-records repository, a special-collections library and research facility, and home to the Museum of Alabama, the state history museum. It is located in downtown Montgomery, directly across Washington Avenue from the State Capitol. The Museum of Alabama is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 to 4:30. The EBSCO Research Room is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 to 4:30. To learn more, visit or call (334) 242-4364.




Alabama Department of Archives & History

624 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36130

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