Convocation Speaker

image of Fred D. Gray

The distinguished speaker selected to give the commencement address is typically announced in the spring. 

Case Western Reserve’s 2017 commencement address was delivered by CWRU alumnus and celebrated civil rights attorney, Fred Gray. 

A native of Alabama, Gray earned his law degree in 1954 from Case Western Reserve University and became entrenched on the front lines of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. During his career he represented Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, among other historic, high-profile clients. Gray was also instrumental in the legal action leading to the desegregation of all public institutions of higher education. 

Gray spoke at the university’s morning convocation on May 21, 2017. Read more about Fred Gray

Read coverage from The Observer, CWRU’s campus newspaper: Civil rights lawyer that defended MLK to speak at commencement

Gray joins a long list of previous distinguished speakers, including

  • Mark Weinberger (LAW ’87, MGT ’87), EY Global Chairman and CEO
  • Barry Meyer (LAW ’67), Retired Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO
  • Mohamed Ibn Chambas (LAW ’84), Joint Special Representative of the African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur
  • Katie Couric, journalist and author
  • Peter B. Lewis, Philanthropist and former Chairman of Progressive Insurance
  • Julie Gerberding (WRC ’77, MED ‘81), previous director of the Centers for Disease Control
  • and many other notable leaders