Rev. Robert Graetz, civil rights leader, passes away at 92

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama has lost a Civil Rights icon. Rev. Robert Graetz died Sunday at the age of 92. 

He was a white Lutheran pastor of a Black congregation in Montgomery, that quickly become involved in the 1955 Bus Boycott.

“For his sermons, he would talk about boycotting those buses,” Madeline Burkhardt said.  

Madeline Burkhardt knew the Graetz family personally.

“I would go over to their house some nights and sit with him while jeanie would go to different meetings and, you know, just really sit with them and learn from them,” Burkhardt said.

Burkhardt learned about the Graetz family’s home being bombed, his passion for civil rights and faith that guided him.

“He would even wear crosses at the courthouse with Dr. King and say, you know, God forgives them for what they’re doing,” Burkhardt said.  

Rev. Cromwell Handy of dexter avenue king memorial baptist church, reflects on the passing of his friend.

“He was a personification of what America is all about,”  Handy said. We can do nothing without the power of God. He was a godly man.”

Handy said his powerful legacy will live on for generations to come.

“How it felt for him to be a white person being involved at that level during the civil rights movement,” Handy said.

Graetz leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren. 


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