Graetz was the only white clergyman to support the boycott, and like other participants in the boycott, the reverend and his family persisted in the face of harassment, terrorism, and death threats that extended to their preschool children. The family home was bombed twice, and while arrests were made, no one was ever convicted. Graetz often became emotional remembering the bombings in later years.
Graetz had spent barely six months as the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church in 1955 when Black leaders in the city organized the boycott, following Rosa Parks’ arrest on 1 December. The Sunday after the arrest and first organizational meetings, Graetz encouraged his congregation to unite behind the protest.
“Let’s try to make this boycott as effective as possible because it won’t be any boycott if half of us ride the buses and half don’t ride,” Graetz told the congregation. “So if we’re going to do it, let’s make a good job of it.”
With a full schedule that included preaching at churches in Clanton and Wetumpka, Graetz took an active role in the boycott. From 6am to 9am each day, he drove a Chevrolet in support of the boycott, shuttling as many as 50 people a day between home and work.