TUSKEGEE, Ala. (January 21, 2013) – Fred D. Gray, renowned civil rights attorney and activist, addressed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Observance at Tuskegee University Monday. Known for working with King and Rosa Parks during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Gray recounted his experiences as a young man striving with others to end the discriminatory practices that were prevalent all over the nation at that time.
|Fred D. Gray
|Fred D. Gray holds a copy of the Campus Digest covering a visit by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1966.
In introductory remarks, Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon said it was a privilege to have Gray as a speaker and that his life and work are educational.
“The lesson that is to be learned is that one must be well-prepared, well-credentialed and genuinely committed when the opportunity to serve our people and serve humanity presents itself,” Rochon said.
Remarks were also made by Gregory S. Gray, dean of the University Chapel, Peter Spears, Sr., dean of students and Alexandria Wilson, Miss Tuskegee University, 2012-2013.
Keys to success
Gray reminded the listeners, many of them students, that he and King were not much older than them when they decided to enter the battle for civil rights. He said many of the younger people gathered in the University Chapel were the beneficiaries of years of hard work by previous generations. However, Gray said that young people should not feel that anyone owes them anything and that hard work along with vision are the keys to attaining success.
“Dreams are good. What’s the first the first thing you need to do to make a dream come true? Wake up,” Gray said.
Tuskegee played a part
Holding up an age-worn vintage copy of the Campus Digest, Gray reminded Tuskegee University students of their predecessors’ part in supporting the work of King and others in the civil rights struggle. He read from an article covering King speaking to students at Logan Hall in 1966. He went on to give more examples of how students and other young people helped to end unfair voting practices and eased the way for minorities to assume local and state political offices.
“This is real history and you played a part in it,” Gray said.
After his address, Gray recounted the experiences he faced as a young lawyer fighting against racial injustice.
“We didn’t have enough sense to have any fear,” Gray said with a smile. “You just have to make up your mind about the things you want and go do them.”
Gilbert L. Rochon, president of Tuskegee University.
The audience linked hands during the convocation to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and sang "We Shall Overcome."