“The Invisible College and the Montgomery Civil Rights Movement”

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Robert S. Graetz

The Reverend Robert Graetz, born May 16, 1928, is a Lutheran clergyman who, as the white pastor of a black congregation in Montgomery, Alabama, openly supported the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He is the author of A White Preacher's Memoir: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, published by Black Belt Press in 1999, and several other publications about his experiences. 

Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Rev. Graetz attended Capital University in Bexley, Ohio in 1950 and received his B.D. in 1955 from Evangelical Theological Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. His first full-time pastoral assignment was at Trinity Lutheran Church, then a black congregation in Montgomery. 

During this time, he had a personal friendship with Rosa Parks and became secretary of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization that was founded to organize the boycott. Graetz and his family were harassed and ostracized by many other whites for their support of the boycott.

After serving numerous congregations in Ohio and Washington, D.C., throughout his career, Rev. Graetz returned to Montgomery with his wife Jeannie in 2008. The Graetzes are active in many community activities including One Montgomery and the League of Women Voters. They host the annual Graetz Symposium at the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University.


Andrew Grace

Andrew Beck Grace is an independent documentary filmmaker whose films have aired on public television stations and at film festivals across the country. Grace teaches in the Department of Telecommunication and Film at the University of Alabama. His talk will focus on a new film, “The Durrs of Montgomery.” 

Grace received an MA in American Studies from the University of Wyoming where he made his first documentary feature about the reenactments of Custer’s Last Stand in southern Montana. Grace spent several years out West making films, freelancing for magazines and working as a producer for NPR News before moving back to his home state to tell stories about the Deep South. At the University of Alabama he teaches and oversees a unique interdisciplinary social justice documentary program called “Documenting Justice.”  

He attended the 2009 CPB/PBS Producers Academy at WGBH in Boston and is currently at work on a documentary, funded by the Independent Television Service, called “Eating Alabama.”