Oct. 1, 2012
Click above to listen to Debbie Elliott's story marking the 50th anniversary of the Ole Miss riot over the admission of James Meredith, above right, to the university. Duncan Gray's voice can be heard near the end of the 7:46 minute audio interview.
An Ode to Mississippi
At a book party June 8, 2011, singer/songwriter/activist Si Kahn sang for his guests his own composition inspired by the publication of "And One Was A Priest." Below is a video of that song.
Click here for links to items from the various stops on the author's Mississippi book tour in May 2011
Exploring what makes a good person
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 those individuals. And One Was a Priest is his remarkable story.
From one perspective, Gray, born in 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 author's question is, "What makes a good person?" And One Was a Priest suggests there is much to learn from Gray's choices and his struggle.
Araminta Stone Johnston now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is assistant professor of philosophy and religion at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. She grew up in Oxford, Mississippi, where she was a member of St. Peter's Episcopal Church.
The author has posted a number of video reflections about Bishop Gray, about the book and about Oxford on this site. And we welcome your comments and reflections on the life and times of Duncan M. Gray Jr.
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