On this day in 1941, American politician William Herbert (Bill) Gray III was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
He was the second born child to Dr.William H. Gray, Jr and Hazel Yates Gray; and a sibling to his elder sister, Marion. Bill Gray’s father was the President of Florida and Industrial College and they lived in Tallahassee, Florida, where Gray spent his childhood.
In 1949, William Gray III lost his grandfather which led to the family’s relocation to North Philadelphia. His grandfather had resided there as a pastor at Bright Hope Baptist Church since 1925.
In 1959, William Gray III graduated high school and proceeded to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he graduated with a B.A in sociology. Gray choose to follow in his grandfather’s shoes by stepping into ministry after he left college. In 1966, he earned a master’s degree in divinity from Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, New Jersey. In 1970, he earned yet another master’s degree in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.
In 1978, Gray joined Congress on a Democratic ticket where he served in different House committees through the 1980’s. In 1989 he was elected in the highest position to ever occupied by a black man. He continued his cpolitical career and went on to represent Pennsylvania’s 2nd congressional disctrict from 1979 to 1991.
Gray III died at 71 years old in London after he collapsed while attending a tennis tournament in Wimbledon.