At the Dallas Promise Program Feb. 5, college and high school students in Dallas had the opportunity to learn from civil rights icon Fred Gray.
Gray marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and fought several legal battles in the civil rights movement. Gray told Dallas Promise Program students that while severe progress has been made, racism still exists in America, and it’s up to the students to keep building upon the foundation that Gray helped construct.
Gray has had a role in every civil rights lawsuit that has impacted America. The 87-year-old man has represented the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. His Book “Bus Ride to Justice” journals the trials and tribulations that he faced on the way.
“I became a lawyer solely for the purpose of destroying everything segregated that I could find, and with a lot of help from a lot of people and I think some divine intervention, have been able to change things, at least to some degree,” Gray told Fox 4 Dallas.
Gray has witnessed significant changes since the early fight against racism.
“We made a tremendous amount of progress and have been able to do away with the laws that required segregation,” Gray said. “We haven’t changed the ears and minds of individuals.”
Gray said changing minds is the newest challenge for the upcoming generation.
“If this generation is gonna expect somebody to give to them on a silver platter, ‘Here is the solution to solving the race problem,’ then they’re wrong,” Gray said.
HIs message left a mark on students like Kristyl Burkey.
“I think that we still have a lot of work to do,” Burkey told the news station. “I think programs like this are striving to make better opportunities. But I do think that it’s an everyday process, and I think it’s all of us to carry that everyday process.”
Gary is hopeful that this process will one day make racism similar to parts of the civil rights struggle in American history.
“Can’t give up hope,” Gray said. “But along with that hope, you have to add some work to it.”