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  • Celebrating Bill Gray

    by Representative Donald M. Payne Jr.

    Posted on 2013-07-08

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    PAYNE. Mr. Speaker, today we honor someone who truly embodied what it means to be a ``public servant,'' former Congressman Bill Gray. Whether it was during his time as a professor, as a Member of Congress, or as President of the United Negro College Fund, Congressman Gray spent his entire life selflessly serving others.



    He exemplified the characteristics of a true leader and was a model for all of us here in this chamber. More than anything, Congressman Gray loved Philadelphia, he loved the people he served, and every day he dedicated himself to making the lives of those less fortunate just a little bit better.

    Congressman Gray's affinity for education began long before he became President of the United Negro College Fund, when he was teaching in my home State of New Jersey. As a professor of history and religion at St. Peter's College, Jersey City State College, and Montclair State College, he helped change the lives of hundreds of young men and women throughout my district.

    This passion for education continued throughout his life as Congressman Gray became a leading advocate in changing the American educational system.

    To Congressman Gray, adversity was a welcome challenge. He broke down racial barriers as the first African-American Majority Whip Leader and Chairman of the House Budget Committee. He also led the charge to help end apartheid.

    These remarkable achievements paved the way for me and other African American leaders to follow.

    Despite his incredible accomplishments in Congress, Congressman Gray never stopped serving and always believed he could do more.

    Returning to his true passion--education--Congressman Gray became President of the United Negro College Fund. There, he remarkably helped raise more than half of UNFC's $1.6 billion in funds to help open the door for thousands of African-American students who merely had a dream and the drive to go to college. With Congressman Gray's help, those dreams have been turned into reality.

    I am incredibly grateful for Congressman Gray's tireless years of civil service and for being a model of true leadership. My condolences and prayers go out to his family and the people of Philadelphia during this difficult time. Congressman Gray will certainly be missed, but has left a mark on this Nation.

    Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a remarkable man, a former Committee Chair, Majority Whip of this distinguished body and an outstanding American, Congressman Bill Gray.

    In 1972, Congressman Gray succeeded his father to serve as the Senior Pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, a position he held until 2007. It was through the church and his family where he first learned the benevolence of kindness and value of public service.

    Congressman Gray, first elected to Congress from Pennsylvania's 22nd District in 1979, worked tirelessly to promote the civil rights of all people. His dedication to this cause extended further than the boundaries of our country and touched countless lives. In Congress, Congressman Gray was instrumental in passing legislation aimed at ending apartheid practices in South Africa.

    Throughout his tenure in Congress, Congressman Gray achieved many firsts. Most notably, he rose to become Chairman of the Budget Committee, a first by an African American. He also served as Majority Whip, the top three job in the House leadership and the highest position occupied by an African American elected official up to that point.

    Congressman Gray was a strong advocate for educational policies, and later led the United Negro College Fund, which supports scholarship programs for African American students and more than three dozen private historically black colleges. In 1999, Congressman Gray helped to secure a $1 billion pledge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for scholarships to be administered by the fund. This is believed to be the largest single act of philanthropy in the history of American higher education.

    I had many opportunities to personally speak with Congressman Gray.

    Congressman Gray was an advocate of strong family values, as he displayed in his marriage with his wife, Andrea, and three sons, William IV, Justin and Andrew.

    Mr. Speaker, it is incumbent upon this body to acknowledge Congressman Gray's achievements and life of public service which have improved our Nation.

    On behalf of the people of the 30th Congressional District of Texas and the United States Congress, I extend my heartfelt sympathy and celebrate his life of service.

    ____________________

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