Memorial service going virtual for civil rights pioneer Jean Graetz


MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Many Alabamians are mourning the loss of a civil rights pioneer as they prepare for her memorial service happening Sunday.

Jean Graetz died on December 16, 2020.

She and her late husband, Reverend Robert Graetz, were activists during the early civil rights era in the state, beginning with Rosa Parks’s Montgomery bus boycott in the 1950s. Parks was Graetz’s friend and neighbor.

Graetz and her husband were one of relatively few and some of the first white people in Alabama who publicly supported equal rights.

Her husband was a minister in a majority-Black Lutheran church in their hometown of Montgomery.

The couple is cited as the only white clergy in the city to endorse and actively engage in the bus boycott.

This caused harassment from local police and the Ku Klux Klan, even leading to their home being bombed twice by the KKK, but that did not stop the couple’s 50 years of activism.

After Graetz and her husband were married, she put her education on hold to be with him through his journey as a minister. Then, in 2015, she went back to school and earned a teaching degree from Alabama State University. She was in her 80’s — the oldest graduate of ASU’s undergraduate program.

For anyone who wants to remember this icon, the family is hosting a memorial service at 2 p.m., limited to family members and invited guests to adhere to covid-19 guidelines.

But for anyone hoping to celebrate Graetz’s life, the family has set up a youtube channel where they will live stream the service.

You can watch below:

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