Veteran civil rights attorney to address audience at Harding

February 27, 2008

SEARCY – Veteran civil rights attorney Fred Gray will speak March 13 in Harding University’s Administration Auditorium.

Now a senior partner at the law firm of Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray & Nathanson, Gray began his career as a sole practitioner. Less than a year out of law school, at age 24, he represented Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus. Gray was also Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s first civil rights lawyer.

He represented plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Ala., in which 399 poor — and mostly illiterate — African-American sharecroppers were denied treatment for syphilis. This study became notorious because it was conducted without due care to its subjects and led to major changes in how patients are protected in clinical studies.

Gray’s appearance is co-sponsored by the College of Nursing, L.C. Sears Collegiate Seminar Series, and White County Medical Center.

Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus will speak April 24.

Klaus studied at the Prague School of Economics, with economics becoming his lifelong specialist field. He entered politics in 1989 as federal minister of finance. In 1991, he was appointed deputy prime minister of the Czecho-Slovak Federation.

In 1990, he became chairman of what was then the strongest political entity in the country — Civic Forum. After its demise in 1991, he co-founded the Civic Democratic Party and was its chairman until 2002. He won parliamentary elections with this party in 1992 and became prime minister of the Czech Republic. In this position he took part in the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia and the foundation of an independent Czech Republic.

In 1996, he successfully defended his position as prime minister in the elections to the Chamber of Deputies, but resigned after breakup of the government coalition in 1997. The next year, he became chairman of the Chamber of Deputies for a four-year term. He was elected president in 2003, and won a second five-year term earlier this month.

Both presentations are free and open to the public. They begin at 7:30 p.m., and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call (501) 279-4497.

Harding had a record enrollment this year of more than 6,300 students from 49 states and 52 foreign countries. It is the largest private university in Arkansas and attracts more National Merit Scholars than any other private university in the state. Harding also maintains campuses in Australia, Chile, England, France/Switzerland, Greece, Italy and Zambia.

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