Robert Graetz, a White minister famously known for his support of the Montgomery bus boycott died on Sunday, according to a Facebook post from the Southeastern Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Graetz served as a pastor to the majority-Black Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church in Montgomery, Alabama. During the bus boycotts, he also helped organize carpools to drive his Black neighbors to work or shopping — a move that wasn’t well received by his white neighbors.
Graetz was 92, according to the Stanford University King Institute’s biography of him.
The Montgomery bus boycott followed Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of a city bus in 1955. The boycott of the bus system in Montgomery by Black people was organized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and lasted 381 days. The boycott ultimately led to a Supreme Court ruling that desegregated public transportation in Montgomery.
“The Reverend Robert Graetz entered the church triumphant today. He was a life-long fighter for justice. May he Rest In Peace and rise in glory. Peace be to his memory,” the Facebook post from Sunday said. It was reposted by Graetz’s daughter, Meta Ellis on her Facebook page.
CNN reached out to Ellis and the Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church, now known as United Evangelical Lutheran Church, but has not yet heard back.
Graetz was the only White board member of the Montgomery Improvement Association, a group that formed in the days following Parks’ arrests, to oversee the boycott, according to the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University.
As a result of his involvement in the boycott, Graetz’s home was bombed several times and he was harassed by White residents, according to The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. After Graetz’s home was bombed a second time in 1957, he left Alabama to become pastor of St. Philip Lutheran Church in Columbus, Ohio where he continued to fight for civil rights issues and advocated in support of gay rights.