Life of Civil Rights Pioneer Jean Graetz Remembered in Montgomery

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Jean Graetz with hustband, Rev. Robert Graetz Photo by David Campbell/ASU

The family of Jean Graetz, a nationally-known civil rights pioneer, held a virtual memorial service for her Sunday. Graetz died last month at her home in Montgomery at the age of 90.

The service can be seen on YouTube:

The service was held at Montgomery’s historic First Baptist Church (brick-a-day church), which played an important role during the early days of the civil rights movement as the home church of the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, who joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Jean Graetz was the wife of the late Rev. Robert Graetz and an active partner with him in the fight for civil and human rights over a 50-year span. They are remembered for their role in the 1955-1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

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Robert was the minister of a majority black Lutheran Church in Montgomery, and he and Jean are said to be the only white clergy in Montgomery to take part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Their home was bombed twice by the KKK, once while they were home with their small children.

Rev. Robert Graetz also died last year, three months prior to Jean.

Jean Graetz was a 2015 graduate of Alabama State University, having earned a bachelor’s degree in education at the age of 85.

“Jean Graetz, with her husband Robert, were pillars of the early civil rights movement in America and dedicated members of the ASU Hornet Nation family. As consultants for the University’s National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture, they helped to educate our students and the community at large about the cause of civil and human rights,” said Alabama State University President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr. “The loss of Jean Graetz leaves a great void on our campus, but her spirit emboldens us to continue to advance the ideals of freedom and liberty for all.”

Categories: Montgomery, News