Mike Gray is a Quaker who is a steadfast ally to many Native American, immigrant and indigenous communities groups in the US and Mexico. Like so many people in the 1960’s and early 70’s, Mike’s life was heavily influenced by the turmoil of the times, but in his late twenties his life took on deeper meaning and purpose when he found Quakerism. Initially, Mike got involved in the anti-nuclear weapons movement. Even more fundamental to Mike was the position he took with the American Friends Service Committee leading Quaker Workcamps and becoming an advocate for Native and indigenous communities.
After the corporate Quaker Workcamp support ended, Mike continued and continues to this day to stay deeply committed to the Lakota community of Pine Ridge and the Seri Indians along the US/Mexico borders. From building projects to helping to transport wares to festivals, Mike is a deeply trusted F/friend to many. There is not a place on Pine Ridge where Mike has not left his mark. For us at William Penn House, it has been and continues to be an honor to spend a few weeks on Pine Ridge every summer, continuing to learn from him that “service” is not fixing things, but being in fellowship and going as way opens. His quiet, sometimes gruff nature and commitment to the world and to Quakerism is inspiring. In the best of Quaker Workcamp fashion, he reminds us of the importance of deep commitment to people, not causes, as a vital part of breaking the cycles of violence, and shows us one way to do this. Thanks to Mike, hundreds of people have deepened their own commitments from having spent time with him.
For today, in the spirit of Mike, take a moment to reflect on these words by Malcolm Fraser that invoke thoughts of Mike’s life work:
“Solutions will not be found while Indigenous people are treated as victims for whom someone else must find solutions.”