Programs and Initiatives

Robert and Jean Graetz Symposium on Race and Reconciliation

The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture established the Robert and Jean Graetz Symposium on Human Rights and Reconciliation on the campus of Alabama State University in honor of long-time human rights activists, Rev. Robert and Mrs. Jean Graetz. The couple worked tirelessly to advance the cause of human rights in our community and around the world. The symposium is designed to stimulate action-oriented citizens to work toward reconciliation while examining factors that divide ethnic groups. Its focus is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of a “Beloved Community."

Returning Spring 2025

We are excited to announce the return of the Graetz Symposium in the spring of 2025, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Jeannie Graetz Literacy Program

The Jeannie Graetz Literacy Program was launched in 2013 as an outgrowth of the Graetz Foundation. Jeannie Graetz dedicated her whole life to helping others. From the time she was a young girl, she had a deep love of books and reading. As a third grader, she began dreaming of becoming a teacher when she grew up, and she worked hard for many years to raise money to pay for college. She did this in secret, because she lived in a community and during a time when few women went to college, and her father did not approve of her plan. Jeannie studied at Capital University in Ohio for two years before her dreams of becoming a teacher were deferred, as she devoted the rest of her life, along with her husband, to community service. More than 60 years after beginning her college journey, she returned to college at Alabama State University and completed her degree in Elementary Education at the age of 85, the oldest graduate in the University's history! When asked what she planned to do after graduation, she enthusiastically talked about her passion for children’s literacy and her desire to help struggling readers. She knew that teaching a child to read would open endless possibilities. She especially wanted to help children discover the absolute joy she had found in books.

The mission of the Jeannie Graetz Literacy Program is to focus attention on literacyespecially for young, at-risk students who are struggling readersby providing engaging literacy opportunities, support, and materials that will enhance students’ ability to participate in the wonderful world of words, opening doors that will allow them to soar.

The beginning efforts of the program have focused on ED Nixon School, a public elementary school in the Graetz Neighborhood of Montgomery, Alabama. This particular school was near and dear to Jeannie’s heart, as she spent countless hours volunteering and doing student teaching there for several years, and approximately 95% of the students at ED Nixon School are considered economically disadvantaged.

Spring 2024 - Loving Literacy Community Fair

The Loving Literacy Community Fair will be a 1-day, 3-hour community event filled with children’s activities, food, entertainment, and book giveaways centered around the theme of literacy for young children and their families.  It will be held on the grounds of United Evangelical Lutheran Church (formerly Trinity Lutheran, the church served by the Graetzes during the Montgomery Bus Boycott years).

The purpose of the Loving Literacy Community Fair is to:

Especially in this age of book bans and attempts to dilute, distort, and erase the history of Black and Indigenous Americans and others, it is important to ensure that our children have opportunities to learn about and celebrate the Civil Rights history of the region, to continue to improve their literacy skills that will empower them for a lifetime, and to experience the powerful act of lifting their voices through spoken and written word, knowing that what they have to say matters and can change the world.

Please join us in making this a successful event! We appreciate the individuals and community organizations in Montgomery and beyond who have already offered their time, talents, and resources to make this happen, and we need you as well

Here's how you can help:

Your tax-deductible contribution will go toward new children's books to be given away at the fair (through New South Bookstore, who is providing a 20% discount on all books purchased for the Literacy Fair), children's activities, and refreshments/bottled water.

Contributions can be made online or by check by clicking here:

If you have any questions or want to sign up to volunteer, contact us:

Thank you for your generous support!