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Prince E. Graves

Gender: Male

Ethnicity: African-American

Biographical/Historical note:

The Reverend Prince Edward Graves was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, on November 29, 1921. When his father died in 1939, Prince, as the oldest, left high school and took a job at a local junkyard to provide for the family. He eventually returned to and graduated from Dudley High School. Graves joined the United States Army and was stationed in Germany during World War II. He returned to the United States in August 1945, and married Dolly Rives. He went back to work as a brick mason, a job he had held briefly following his position at the junkyard, and later began his own bricklaying company.

In 1953 Graves changed careers and became minister of St. James Baptist Church. He started Greensboro’s first soup kitchen in the basement of St. James, which later became the Urban Ministries. He also began a program to feed breakfast and provide coats to underprivileged children in the city. He and his church were given funding to acquire housing units in Greensboro for low-income residents and for the elderly. During the 1960s, Graves was part of a group of ministers who were called to city hall to help during times of racial unrest, and he allowed the church to be used as a meeting place for civil rights activists.

Graves was later appointed chairman of the Greensboro Human Relations Commission and served briefly on the city council in 1981. He received numerous awards from state and community organizations, two honorary doctorates, the NAACP Economic Development Award, and a certificate of appreciation signed by Governor Jim Hunt. After serving as pastor at St. James Baptist Church for forty-five years, he retired due to illness in 1999. Reverend Graves died on January 15, 2005 at the age of 83.

Items created by this individual or group:
Item thumbnail image Oral history interview with Prince E. Graves by Kathleen Hoke
Date: June 18, 1990
By: Prince E. Graves
From: GreensboroVOICES Collection

In this transcript of a June 18, 1990, oral history interview conducted by Kathleen Hoke with Prince E. Graves, Graves discusses his childhood in segregated Greensboro, his faith, and his later rol...