A look back at Sonoma County NAACP co-founder Alice Gray

Take a dive into The Press Democrat’s archives, and it’s hard to miss the activism and community work by the indomitable Alice Gray during the second half of the 20th century.

Gray was mentioned in a 1961 front page story about an anti-segregation rally for racial equality.

There’s an item about her in 1985 that details her using $2 bills for a month to pay bills and make purchases as part of a nationwide NAACP demonstration of Black people’s economic impact on communities."

Gray and her husband, Gilbert, strong proponents of education, were featured in the paper in 1993 for donating $10,000 to local school sports.

In 1986, she was among a group of Santa Rosa NAACP delegates who denounced a Honolulu judge for using a racial slur during a discussion of bail bond practices of a Black bondsman.

And there’s a 1994 letter to the editor she signed with a group asking the Press Democrat for more coverage of a Black candidate for the Santa Rosa City Council.

“Do you not find it newsworthy that a black man of character and good reputation is seeking a seat on the Santa Rosa City Council?” the letter said.

It’s clear Gray did not hold back when it came to taking up space and standing up for social and racial injustice.

“Known throughout Sonoma County for her leadership in the civil rights movement, Alice’s strength, motherly warmth, and common sense were a hallmark of her style,” former U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, said in 2006 remarks to Congress.

Born in 1917, Gray moved from Texas to the North Bay in 1950, according to her obituary.

Alongside her husband, Gilbert, and Platt Williams, Gray helped found the Sonoma County NAACP in 1953.

She also was one of the founders of the Community Baptist Church, originally a Black congregation in Santa Rosa that’s grown to include a diverse group of worshippers.

Alice and Gilbert Gray had nine children together and were married for 62 years before he died in 1997. Alice Gray died on Feb. 10, 2006, at age 88.

See photos from her life in the gallery above.

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