Former Rep. Bill Gray (D-Pa) to Receive 40th Distinguished Service Award in U.S. House Chamber

Jun 10, 2010, 13:30 ET from National Archives

The U. S. Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC) will recognize Gray's public service activities after leaving Congress in 1991. The organization is also co-hosting a conference on bi-partisanship at the National Archives.

WASHINGTON, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the U.S. Congress' approval rating at an all time low, and bi-partisanship a fleeting sentiment, the time couldn't be better to explore solutions to restore civil political discourse in Washington—a clearly partisan town.


The FMC, which turns 40 this year, is a non-profit organization comprised of more than 600 former Senators and Representatives, with the goal of promoting public service and strengthening democracy through a variety of domestic and international programs. While disdain for Congress seems relatively ubiquitous, many former Members have defied that notion by participating in service projects-- from election monitoring in Iraq and Afghanistan to spending several days on 30 different college campuses every year to talk about public service and citizen responsibility.

On Tuesday, June 15, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., in the Chamber of the House of Representatives, Rep. Gray will receive the Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented each year to a former member of Congress who has made a difference in the lives of others through their service and dedication to promoting a better world. Rep. Gray embodies the spirit of the award, having spent his post-Congressional career as an education champion, which he believes is "a higher calling." As president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), he worked to elevate historically Black colleges, and believes they provide vital educational bridges that need continued support. In addition to his work at UNCF, Rep. Gray was an unpaid advisor to President Bill Clinton on Haiti, and continued to preach and pastor at the Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where his father and grandfather were both ministers, until his retirement after 35 years of service. He currently splits his time between Washington and Miami, Florida. Other former Members who have received the award include: Bob Dole, George Mitchell, Albert Gore, Jr., Lindy Boggs, and Bill Richardson, among others.

On Wednesday, June 16, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., in the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives, 7th Street and Constitution Ave., NW, the National Archives in partnership with the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress and the Bipartisan Policy Center, will host a free, day-long bipartisanship conference.

Conference speakers include former and current members of Congress as well as political journalists serving as moderators and panelists. The speakers will explore issues such as: how the lack of bipartisanship affects actions on Capitol Hill; how the 24-hour news cycle contributes to partisanship in the nation's political discourse; and what solutions can be implemented to tackle the problem. A conference agenda is available on

Coverage of both events is invited. Interviews with Rep. Gray are available by request, as well as with participants in the conference.

SOURCE National Archives