The Graetzes faced retribution from the community for their actions. Their car’s tires were slashed, sugar was poured into the gasoline tank, rocks were thrown into their house’s windows, and they received threatening phone calls. Graetz was sometimes followed as he was leaving town. His home was bombed twice, the first time in August 1956 while he and his family were away and the second time while they were home with their nine-day-old baby. Thankfully, no one was ever harmed.
The couple worried, however, about the danger their actions posed to their children. Graetz said, “We finally decided that we couldn’t control that—that God had brought us here, the children were in God’s hands, and if God wanted them to be protected, that would be his job.”
The Montgomery Bus Boycott officially ended on Dec. 20, 1956, following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a federal court ruling that bus segregation was unconstitutional. At a mass meeting on Nov. 14, 1956, celebrating that decision, Graetz read to thousands of people from 1 Corinthians 13. Said Graetz, “And I got up and started reading and in the middle of the reading, again, loud applause, and I thought, they’re not letting me finish. And I looked down at what I was reading and realized that what I had just read was, ‘When I became a man I put away childish things.’ And people knew that we had matured in this process. We were different people.”
Graetz is survived by his wife, six of his children, and his sister, as well as 26 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandson.