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who’s cool: meet montgomery legend reverend robert s. graetz

Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | Posted in: Worth Checking Out,

In the mid-1950s, being black in the deep South definitely had its downside, thanks to the daily injustices brought on by the laws of segregation and discrimination. But being a white man who stood up to support African-Americans’ fight for true freedom and equality was sometimes almost just as hard.

Yet, hardship, threats and even the delivery on those threats didn’t stop Rev. Robert Graetz, a Lutheran pastor in Montgomery, from doing just that. At a time when it was dangerous to do so, he openly supported the Montgomery Bus Boycott. His congregation at Trinity Lutheran Church was black, and Rosa Parks, the courageous seamstress who was the impetus of the boycott, was a member and a close friend.

Graetz did more than just vocalize his support from the pulpit, he formally joined the movement, becoming secretary of the Montgomery Improvement Association and frequently attending meetings led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He became one of the key players in the Civil Rights Movement that started right here.

Due to his role, he and his family were ostracized by other white Montgomerians. That was bad enough, but the hate ran too deep for it to end there. Graetz had his tires slashed, was arrested on
false charges and his house was bombed three times; thankfully, the largest bomb planted failed to explode.

Through it all, he believed he was living out the tenets of his Christian faith, and he trusted in that faith for protection. None of it stopped Graetz then, and today, he and his wife live in Montgomery and are still active in their community, still fighting the good fight and standing up for injustice in all of its forms.

Reverend Graetz has written a book detailing his experiences entitled “A White Preacher’s Message on Race and Reconciliation: Based on His Experiences Beginning with the Montgomery Bus Boycott.” You can grab your copy at New South Books at 105 South Court Street downtown or order it at

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