Lutheran Clergyman and Civil Rights Leader
Rev. Robert Graetz’s first full-time job as pastor was to a Black congregation, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Montgomery. He began working there in 1955, the year of the Montgomery bus boycott. A personal friend and neighbor of Rosa Parks, Graetz became secretary of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization founded to organize and support the boycott. He was its sole white board member and the only white clergyman in Montgomery to vocally support the boycott. He and his family were often targeted for harassment, surveillance, tire slashings, and in early 1957 their home was firebombed by the KKK. He later founded the Graetz Symposium, an annual conference, in partnership with The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture.