Icons of the civil rights movement. Reverend Graetz was a Lutheran minister assigned to an all black church in Montgomery, Alabama in June, 1955. He promised the denominational leaders he “wouldn’t start trouble.” But he certainly joined it.
Hearing rumors about a planned bus boycott, he called up Rosa Parks to get the low-down. That means he knew her phone number. (Of course I had to ask if he could remember it, but alas 85 is 85).
He worked closely with Martin Luther, King Jr. and assisted with transportation of black workers during the boycott. As a result, he and his family endured death threats. Their home was bombed; sugar was put in their gas tank; their tires were slashed. They put their lives on the line for their deeply held religious convictions.
This humble, fearless Christian power-couple has been together for 60 years. They have 7 children and 26 grandchildren. There is no retirement plan for social justice activists. Now in their 80s, they are still at the cutting edge of civil rights work. Robert speaks out against the New Jim Crow http://newjimcrow.com/ (mass incarceration of African American men) and Jeannie engages in actions with SoulForce, a religious witness on behalf of LGBT equality. It was a deep honor to meet them and share a meal with them at Martha’s Place.