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Retired professor to be honored for lifelong advocacy efforts

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Retired professor to be honored for lifelong advocacy efforts
For his longtime commitment to advancing racial equality and human rights, Karl Gregory, Ph.D., is the 2014 recipient of the Bishop H. Coleman McGehee, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award from the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights.

Dr. Gregory, who retired from Oakland University in 1996 as a distinguished professor of economics, has an inspiring record of leadership at the local, state and national levels. He has served in the federal government under several U.S. presidents and was selected by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to serve on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Advisory Committee on the African American Population for the 1980 and 2010 decennial censuses. He was an economic advisor to former Michigan Governor John Engler and also served on various state and local advisory committees in Michigan.

When asked about his life’s work, Dr. Gregory said, “I am most proud of my human and civil rights activities. I view my greatest accomplishments not so much for teaching economics to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students and my academic writings, nor working in the Executive Office of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and helping to promote policies that included the war against poverty. Rather, I regard my greatest role as being an activist with a great commitment for community betterment globally, nationally and locally.”

Dr. Gregory’s exemplary career also includes service on boards of directors for several financial institutions, such as the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the First Independence National Bank of Detroit, which he organized and served as the institution’s first chair of the board of directors and also as interim president.

A longtime community advocate, Dr. Gregory also served on the boards of directors for the Detroit Chapter of the National Urban League, the Executive Committee for the Detroit Branch of the NAACP, Inner City Business Improvement Forum, Barden Cablevision of Detroit and several committees of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. In addition, Dr. Gregory was the chairman of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in the early 1960s and led the group’s fight against residential segregation, its efforts to train college students to participate in summer voter registration drives and other civil rights initiatives.

His dedicated efforts were recognized in 2008 with the MLK Community Service Award from Southfield's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force. The award honors individuals who best exemplify King's qualities, devote time to the advancement of human and civil rights and are active in community service.

Now in its 34th year, the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights promotes awareness of, commitment to, and advocacy for human rights through education, community organization, and action. The organization opposes forces that suppress human dignity, freedom, and justice locally and around the world. It is an interfaith network of religious, labor, civic and humanitarian groups and individuals.

Along with other honorees, Dr. Gregory will be presented with his award during the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights’ annual dinner on Sunday, May 18, at Marygrove College in Detroit.