Civil Rights Attorney to Speak at Emporia State

June 15, 2016

Presentation precedes presidential inauguration

A renowned U.S. civil rights attorney who stood alongside Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will give a special presentation at Emporia State University in September to launch the presidential inauguration festivities at the university.

Allison Garrett, 17th president of the university since its founding in 1863, will be inaugurated on Friday, Sept. 16. Garrett assumed her role in January. Fred D. Gray Sr., will give a public presentation the evening of Thursday, Sept. 15, then speak to middle- and high-school students the next morning as part of a university-sponsored Constitution Day event.

“I am honored that Fred Gray will come to speak at Emporia State University,” said Garrett. “Rather than just having a front-row seat to history, Mr. Gray gave much of his life to change the very fabric of our country. His experiences and insights remain current today.”

Gray began a dynamic civil rights career in 1954, less than a year after completing law school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. His first civil rights case was representation of Claudette Colvin, a 15-year old African American high school student who refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1955. In December 1955 he represented Rosa Parks who was arrested because she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

He was also the first civil rights attorney for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and took several civil rights cases. Gray was portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr., in the 2014 movie “Selma.”

A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Gray was one of the first African Americans to serve in the Alabama Legislature since reconstruction serving from 1970-1974. Over the course of his legal career, the American Bar Association honored him with two of its highest awards: the Spirit of Excellence Award in 1996 — the inaugural year of the award — and the Thurgood Marshall Award in 2004.

“Bus Ride to Justice” is Gray’s autobiography, released in February 1995, with a revised edition in May 2013. “The Tuskegee Syphilis Study” was released in May 1998. Gray served as counsel in the 1973 class-action lawsuit on behalf of men in the infamous study, their wives, children and families.

Inauguration festivities for President Garrett coincide with Family and Friends weekend at Emporia State University.

“We want to involve all of Hornet Nation and the Emporia community during our celebration,” said Jennifer Denton, vice president for stewardship and administration for the ESU Foundation and associate vice president for university advancement.

Denton is co-chair of the inauguration committee with Jim Bartruff, director of theatre and professor in the Department of Communication and Theatre.

Plans include an inauguration ceremony the afternoon of Sept. 16 followed by a community reception and celebration. 

Family & Friends weekend events on Saturday, Sept. 17 include open houses and activities on campus before the football game against Missouri Southern State University.


More information:

Fred Gray Sr.:

ESU presidential inauguration:

I'm A Hornet from President Allison Garrett

June 20, 2016

Josh Yurek from U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts

Three Alumni Named 2016 Outstanding Recent Graduates

May 23, 2016

On the heels of Emporia State

I'm A Hornet from President Allison Garrett

May 18, 2016

Our graduate commencement exercises last Saturday were standing room only with Room 408 in Plumb Hall used as overflow so friends and family could watch the livestream of the event. The livestreams ...

Dick Hawk’s Scholarship Gift Celebrated

May 4, 2016

An entrepreneur, an innovator and an advocate for higher education are just a few of the many ways one might describe Emporia State University alumnus Richard C. A pioneer in...

I'm A Hornet from President Allison D. Garrett

April 20, 2016

April 20, 2016 Congratulations to Dr. Marshall Sundberg, the 2016 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor. I was delighted to be part of a delegation that surprised Dr. Sundberg during his Biology of ...

University Earns Tree Campus USA Honor in Advance of Arbor Day Celebration

April 13, 2016

A tree-planting on Monday with the president of Arts, Science

Skyline Dining to Close, Become Event Space

April 11, 2016

The Emporia State University Memorial Union is re-envisioning the use of the Skyline Room, which will add to the building

I'm A Hornet from President Allison Garrett

April 6, 2016

Our spring semester is filled with celebrations. The KSTC Ballroom in the Memorial Union was filled with Kansas Masons and university supporters on Friday, March 25, when we announced the largest gift...

I'm A Hornet from President Allison Garrett

March 9, 2016

March 9, 2016 Congratulations to our social science department, whose alumni continue to garner awards: Amanda Schaefer (BSE-Social Sciences Education 2007; master of teaching 2010), ...

I'm a Hornet from President Allison Garrett

February 24, 2016

Congratulations to Matt Seimears (Elementary Education/Early Childhood/Special Education), Dusti Howell (Instructional Design and Technology), Chris Pettit (Physical Sciences), and Joseph Kern (...

Emporia State to Host Third Annual LCL Art Exhibit Reception

February 23, 2016

Emporia State will host the third annual Lyon County League High Schools Art Exhibit opening reception on Thursday, Feb. 25 at the John T. and Connie S. Staton Art Gallery on the second floor in the ...

Elaine Slater Honored at Bell-Ringing Ceremony

February 15, 2016

A loyal donor for nearly 30 years, the late Elaine Slater defined what it meant to be an active member of Hornet Nation. The Morris County, Kansas, native attended Emporia State for one year as a ...

Distinguished Alumni Announced for 2016

February 12, 2016

Five Kansans will receive the 2016 Distinguished Alumni awards from the Emporia State University Alumni Association during Homecoming activities in October during the Black and Gold Dinner on Oct. 14,...

Founders’ Day 2016 Luncheon Celebrates 153rd Anniversary of Emporia State’s Founding

February 12, 2016

The 153rd anniversary of Emporia State University

Alumni Association Announces University Service Citation Honorees

February 12, 2016

Four dedicated Emporia State University supporters will be honored during the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon in June for their ongoing service to the university. Recipients this year will be Virginia...

I'm A Hornet From President Allison Garrett

February 10, 2016

Congratulations to Shane Shivley, who was named Tuesday as the new president/CEO of the ESU Foundation and Emporia State vice president for advancement. Shane will assume his new role March 1 and we ...



Achievement - Emporia State University

Check out our students' achievements and accomplishments on Emporia State's site