Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Career: Early Development

BOND: You graduate from college, you have this internship, and you go to Drew Theological Seminary, which means, of course, that you've made a decision. You're going to be a minister.

GRAY: Absolutely.

BOND: Now you've got to think that your father's influence had a lot to do with this, and his father before him. Any other influences that pointed you in that direction?

GRAY: No, as a matter of fact, I resisted and rebelled against ministry. I mean, I fought it very, very hard. I was not going to be a minister like my father or my grandfather.

BOND: Why not?

GRAY: I just – I was a pastor's kid. I was a terrible PK. I mean, I raised Cain, I did everything possible, you know, that a PK could do to embarrass his father and parents. I mean, I was – I did all those kind of things. But I just – what I had done was, I had taken all of my elective and required courses in my first three years. I had even gone to summer school. So I could take some courses that I didn't do too well in, some of my science courses. Someone taught me the trick of you take those courses in the summer school. And I did that, because I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to do with my life.

BOND: What were the attractions? What were the other options?

GRAY: And what I was looking at medicine, be a doctor, be a dentist, be a lawyer. Those were the things that I was really thinking about. I mean, because those were the traditional things in the black community. You've got to remember, in the '50s, in the early 1960s, black folk didn't think about becoming engineers. They didn't think about becoming artists, journalists. There were basically only about four or five "recognized professions" for the black community, you know, teaching, law, preaching, ministry, or funeral director. I mean, that was it. I mean, you know, good paying, prestige, that was it. And I was sort of traditional, but I didn't want to be a preacher. I was rebelling against the church. I remember as soon as I got to Franklin and Marshall, the first thing I did is say, "I don't have to go to church on Sunday morning anymore." And, of course about a year later, I found out that, "Hey, I better go down here and pray before these finals, because they are really kicking me back." But even then I still resisted it. And so, I had all electives my senior year. I could have taken all the courses that would have qualified me for pre-med, dental school, law school, or whatever. And finally, it was not until the summer between my junior and senior year that I made the decision that, "Hey, you know, you're really fighting? You're fighting that which you really want to do, and you really admire the most."