Washington man has traveled difficult road
Published 8:29 am Monday, February 25, 2008
Says parents, mentors helped pave way
By CLAUD HODGES
Washington native Clifton Jarvis Gray III, 30, returned to Washington two years ago to serve the people as a trial lawyer.
Gray said he was raised in public housing in Washington.
Two of Gray’s sisters are teachers, one is a registered nurse and one is a social worker. One of his brothers is in college.
In addition to his immediate family members, his uncle, Bobby Roulhac, pastor at Holy Fellowship Church, encouraged him to clear a way out of the public housing community and move ahead with his life, Gray said.
Gray’s eighth grade science teacher, Melvin Boyd, was a mentor in his life that made Gray so much of what he is today, Gray said.
Boyd said he is proud to have taught Gray and to have become his friend.
Boyd said Gray is an inspiring young man who has delivered many speeches to Washington’s youth and has shown them what they can do with their lives.
With Boyd’s encouragement as one of the turning points in his life, Gray took some of his time in junior high school and memorized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech.
He said he started reciting the speech at churches and youth organizations and that it was uplifting and inspiring for him as well as all those who heard him deliver it.
It was then that he began to really move toward the future, he said.
After graduating from Washington High School, he attended North Carolina Central University in Durham.
He said Rowland inspired him to do much with his life.
After his sophomore year in college, he served as a White House intern in Washington, D.C., and was assigned to prepare Vice President Al Gore’s briefing book every day.
After earning a college degree from NCCU, he taught English for two years at Southeast Raleigh High School. He was the first male English teacher in any Raleigh high school.
After his work as a teacher, he returned to NCCU and earned a degree in law. After becoming a lawyer, he was hired as a federal government lawyer.
However, his life took another turn when he came home to Washington in October 2005.
In Moore, Gray said he had found another mentor. In March 2006 under the suggestion and encouragement of Moore, Gray and Watsi Sutton opened the first law firm in Washington led by a black partnership.
Moore said Gray worked himself out and took full advantage of the opportunities that have gotten him where he is today.
Moore said Gray has done the right thing.
Gray said he is proud to be back in Washington, but he will not stay here forever, he said.
Gray said he could not tell how long he will remain a trial lawyer, but he will do the best he can and will work for his clients continually, a principle he said has always been his rule in life.
Then, after he leaves the law profession, he said he will enter politics, his dream.