“Destroy everything segregated I could find.” This, Fred Gray told me, was the reason he went to law school. Gray wasted no time. In 1955—remarkably, just one year out—he represented Rosa Parks, on trial for her legendary act of defiance on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

Parks was found guilty. But Gray got the last word. Less than one year later, he convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to declare racial segregation of Montgomery’s buses unconstitutional.