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 Missisippi "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, Charlotte, North Carolina, 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.