I was honored to attend the memorial for buddy gray down in the Over the Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati on Wednesday November 15. Duane Drotar from 2100 Lakeside Shelter and I went down to remember this giant in the United States social justice movement. Here is the text of the description prepared for the memorial:
buddy gray (he preferred his name in lower case letters) was a war resister, carpenter, preservationist, poet, community journalist, baseball coach, and friend to many. And he was known best as a relentless and uncompromising advocate for low income housing and other services for the poor. He came from a small-town, working-class family to live in Over-the-Rhine because he believed in the cause of liberation. He had decided, when he was still a young man, that he could not tolerate the poverty and discrimination he saw in the world around him. So he entered what his brother Jack called "a journey of fearless, selfless service."Michael Stoops from National Coalition spoke and Barb Anderson from Indiana came to the remember her friend, buddy. Georgine Getty from the Greater Cincinnati Coalition and buddy's close friend Bonnie Neumeier talked about gray's legacy. It was a wonderful service with civil rights activists from the 1960s and 1970s standing witness with college and high school students from Moeller High School and Xavier and Miami University. We got to hear from Donald Whitehead who was the previous director of National Coalition for the Homeless and the Cincy Coalition talk about buddy saying "I'm glad you are here," when he was at a low point in his life.
I was asked to say a few words. I talked about how I missed buddy and Ralph Delaney who was also killed. I talked about all that they could have done over the last decade to help in the struggle. Then I finished with Daniel Thompson's poem about Ralph and by extension buddy called "There are Saints in the City."
There were so many stories and so many programs touched by buddy. His legacy was not extinguished when he was killed by a disturbed man. The Drop Inn Center had expanded and continues to fight against gentrification. Buddy's Place opened and is a beautiful meeting place for activist. It was easy to see potential conflict between the nearly 100 condominiums being developed while homeless people struggle to find affordable housing in the Over The Rhine neighborhood. It was a wonderful event that will keep the fire burning in those that carry the light for social justice.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.