Tiffany B. McCord, the Montgomery County circuit clerk, viewed records stored in the courthouse basement. Audra Melton for The New York Times, Featured Image
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Fred Gray, 87, bespectacled and a bit hard of hearing, stood quietly over the archival box. His hands, though, were a twitching blur: flipping past some folders, opening others, rustling through records that dated back more than half a century.
“Some of these,” said Mr. Gray, who was a young lawyer during the height of the civil rights movement, “I’ve never seen.”
Here was an arrest warrant declaring that Rosa Parks, a client, “did refuse to take a seat assigned to her race.” Here was an appeal bond for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., another client.
Here were court motions and bond documents and official papers connected to the prosecutions that swept up dozens of people who participated in the Montgomery bus boycott, which galvanized civil rights demonstrators in Alabama and beyond.