National Long Time Activist and SC Native Kevin Alexander Gray Passes at 65

March 13, 2023
Kevin Alexander Gray, Columbia author, activist, and BBQ Restaurant owner Kevin Alexander Gray, Columbia author, activist, and BBQ Restaurant owner

Kevin Alexander Gray, an activist, author and barbecue restaurant owner who bridged Columbia’s political and culinary worlds, has died. Gray died Tuesday, March 7, 2023 according to friends of his family. He was 65. The cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

Gray and his younger sister Valerie were among the first blacks to attend the local all-white elementary school in 1968. He was involved in community organizing, working on a variety of issues ranging from racial politics, police violence, third-world politics and relations, union organizing and workers’ rights, grassroots political campaigns, marches, actions and political events.

Gray was an organizer of the Harriet Tubman Freedom House Project which focuses on community based political and cultural education. He was an organizer for the National Mobilization Committee Against the Drug War. Former managing and contributing editor of Black News in Columbia, and served as contributing writer to other minority newspapers in South Carolina. He served as a national board member of the American Civil Liberties Union for 4 years and was a past eight-term president of the South Carolina affiliate of the ACLU. Advisory board member of DRC Net (Drug Policy Reform Coalition).

In 1997, Gray was an organizer for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition’s anti-Proposition 209 marches in San Francisco and Sacramento, California.

Grya was a South Carolina coordinator for the 1988 presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson and 1992 southern political director for the presidential campaign of Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. In 2002 Gray was a SC United Citizens’ Party and Green Party Gubernatorial candidate.

Founding member of the National Rainbow Coalition in 1986. Former co-chair of the Southern Rainbow Education Project — a coalition of southern activists. Former contributing editor – Independent Political Action Bulletin.

Gray’s critique “A Call for a New Anti-War Movement” appears in How to Legalize Drugs: Public Health, Social Science and Civil Liberties Perspective edited by Dr. Jefferson Fish of St. John’s University. The book is a collection of works by drug policy reformers across the country. The essay takes a cultural and ideological look at the impact of the “war on drugs” on African Americans. Gray’s “The Legacy of Strom Thurmond” appears in Jack Newfield’s American Monsters, “Soul Brother? Bill Clinton and Black America” appears in Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair’s Dimes Worth of Difference and “What Would Malcolm Say” appears in Peace Not Terror edited by Mary Susannah Robbins.

Gray’s essay on race and politics have appeared in The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy – “The Intensification of Racial Solidarity in the 1990s under the guise of Black Nationalism” (1996); The Progressive Magazine, Counterpunch, The Washington Post Outlook Section, Emerge, One Magazine, The American University Graduate Review and numerous other national, regional and local publications.
Gray’s essays on race, politics, cultural and world affairs can be found online at The Progressive,, The Black Agenda Report and “Holla If You Hear Me” blog.