And One Was a PriestThe Life and Times of Duncan M. Gray Jr.

And One Was a PriestThe Life and Times of Duncan M. Gray Jr.

Araminta Stone Johnston

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781604738285

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

The story of the civil rights movement is not simply the history of its major players but is also the stories of a host of lesser-known individuals whose actions were essential to the movement’s successes. Duncan M. Gray Jr., an Episcopal priest who served various Mississippi parishes between 1953 and 1974, when he was elected bishop of Mississippi, is one of these individuals. This book is his story. From one perspective, Gray (b. 1926) would seem an unlikely spokesman for racial equality and reconciliation. He could have been content simply to become a member of the white, male Mississippi “club.” Gray could have embraced a comfortable life and ignored the burning realities around him. But he chose instead to use his priesthood to speak in unpopular but prophetic support of justice and equality for African Americans. From his student days at the seminary at the University of the South, to his first church in Cleveland, Mississippi, and most famously to St. Peter’s Parish in Oxford, where he confronted rioters in 1962, Gray steadfastly and fearlessly fought the status quo. He continued to work for racial reconciliation, inside and outside of the church, throughout his life. This biography tells not only Gray’s story, but also reveals the times and people that helped make him. The book’s question is “What makes a good person?” The book suggests there is much to learn from Gray’s choices and his struggle.