Former United States House of Representatives Majority Whip and past UNCF president William “Bill” Herbert Gray III dies at 71. Gray served six terms in Congress and was the highest-ranking African American during his tenure.
A sterling politician, he held the following positions while in Congress: chair of the House Budget Committee, chairman of the Democratic caucus, Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, chair of the finance committee (first African American ever), head of the majority caucus (first African American ever), and the number three position in the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives (first African American ever).
His most notable legislative accomplishment was the passage of the Anti-Apartheid acts of 1985 and 1986, overriding presidential vetoes. He was appointed special advisor to the President and the Secretary of State for Haitian Affairs by President Bill Clinton.
In 1991, Gray resigned from his seat in Congress to lead the United Negro College Fund and served in this capacity until 2004.
Gray pastored Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, following in his grandfather and father’s footsteps. He developed a politically active ministry and continued his interest in housing and mortgage issues and retired in 2007, after 35 years.
He died while attending the 2013 Wimbledon Championships in London.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter issued a statement to press regarding his passing, “[Gray] helped make our City great by moving politics and governance from the muck and mire of mere political transactions to principled action “