Montgomery, Ala. – The Rev. Robert S. Graetz Jr., an unflinching advocate for civil rights and the only white clergyman to publicly support the Montgomery Bus Boycott, passed from complications related to Parkinson’s disease on Sunday. He was 92.
Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Memorial Center Director Tafeni English issued the following statement:
“Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of a remarkable civil rights and social justice leader. As pastor of Montgomery’s Trinity Lutheran Church, Rev. Graetz was a staunch and unwavering ally in the fight against white supremacy, and a cherished friend of Rosa Parks, Julian Bond and the SPLC. Rev. Graetz was a kind and gentle soul, who along with his revered wife, Jeannie, dedicated his life to creating Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community.
“After leaving Montgomery for another pastoral assignment in Ohio, Rev. Graetz visited often, for gatherings at the Civil Rights Memorial and to meet with participants on civil rights pilgrimages. Following his return to Montgomery in 2005, he founded the Graetz Symposium – an annual conference supporting the movement – in partnership with The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture.
"Today, we continue the march – in honor of his life’s work, and inspired by his grace, compassion and fortitude.”
Lead photo by Gene Herrick/AP Images