UA Law School to Commemorate 45th Anniversary of First African-American Graduates

  • March 27th, 2017

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Professor Bryan Fair and civil rights attorney Fred Gray will have “A Conversation about Jim Crow Policy” at 9:45 a.m. March 31 at the symposium on Bending the Arc of History: African-Americans and The University of Alabama School of Law.

In 1972, Michael Figures, Booker Forte, Jr. and Ronald E. Jackson made history by becoming the first African-American students to graduate from The University of Alabama School of Law.

Almost a decade after the infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door,” a moment that would stain Alabama’s education record, the graduation and subsequent legal success of these students demonstrated their perseverance and determination.

UA School of Law alumni, judges and professors will discuss the experience and history of diversity and inclusion at The University of Alabama School of Law, and the law school’s first African-American law students will recount their experiences at noon as part of the Trailblazers Luncheon.

The conference will explore complex questions about diversity at the law school, highlight advancements that have been made and provide potential solutions to the challenges and obstacles that remain.

“As we commemorate the 45th Anniversary of the first African-American law graduates, we should reflect on the advancements realized so far and use the legacy of our African-American alumni to inspire a new set of solutions to the challenges that still remain,” said Daiquiri J. Steele, director of diversity & inclusion and assistant professor of law in residence at the UA School of Law.

The symposium will be held 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in the Bedsole Moot Court Room, room 140.

Other confirmed speakers are:

Judge Sonja Bivins, United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Alabama

James “Jim” Blacksher, Esquire

Justice Ralph Cook, Of Counsel, Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton

J. Mason Davis, Shareholder, Sirote

Judge John England, Jr., Circuit Judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit

Shomari Figures, Former White House Liaison, Department of Justice

Bridget Harris, Student, The University of Alabama School of Law

Don Hays, Executive Assistant to the Dean for External Affairs, The University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences

Ronald Jackson, Esquire

Frank James, Senior Counsel, Baker Donelson

George Jones, Esquire

Marcus Maples, Shareholder, Baker Donelson

Kelsie Mattox, Student, The University of Alabama School of Law

Senator Hank Sanders, Senator for Alabama District 23

Sue Thompson, Esquire

More information is available by clicking here:

About the UA School of Law

One of America’s leading public law schools, and the “#1 Best Value Law School” in the nation, according to the National Jurist, for two years in a row (2012 and 2013), The University of Alabama School of Law offers a challenging curriculum with over 150 electives, several dual enrollment opportunities, Master of Laws degrees, and a J.S.D. With a student-to-faculty ratio of approximately 10:1, the Law School offers students a rigorous, hands-on learning experience, with strong student engagement in clinical programs, law review, moot court and trial advocacy.

About Fred Gray

Fred David Gray is a native of Montgomery and lives in Tuskegee. Educated at Nashville Christian Institute, Alabama State University and Case Western Reserve University, he was admitted to practice in 1954. He serves as senior partner at the firm of Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray, Gray & Nathanson P.C.

His most notable cases include City of Montgomery v. Rosa Parks; State of Alabama v. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Aurelia A. Browder, et al v. W.A. Gayle, et al (integrated buses in the City of Montgomery); Gomillion v. Lightfoot, (foundation for the concept of “one man one vote”); NAACP v. Alabama, ex rel. John Patterson, Attorney General; Dixon, et al v. The Alabama State Board of Education and Williams v. Wallace (ordered State of Alabama to protect marchers from Selma to Montgomery after they were beaten on Bloody Sunday).


Monique Fields, manager of communications, UA School of Law, 205/348-5195, or UA media relations, 205/348-5320

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.