REV. GLENN GRAYSON SR., pastor of Wesley Center AME Zion Church in the Hill District.
THE RACE FOR THE STATE HOUSE IS HEATING UP
People see the Rev. Glenn Grayson Sr. around so much, you’d think he already was a state representative.
Actually, he said, he’s a person who believes that “the world is my parish; my work isn’t just within my four walls.”
Throughout his life, Rev. Grayson has worked as a champion of his community, especially for young people. He came to Pittsburgh in 1995 as the new pastor of Wesley Center AME Zion Church, in the Hill District, and is now the longest-serving pastor of the church. He’s created The Center that CARES, which runs the Jeron X. Grayson Center, a safe place that positively aids hundreds of middle and high school students each year. He’s opened CARES CommuniTEA Cafe in the Hill District’s Centre-Heldman Plaza, which employs youngsters as they learn valuable work skills.
But Rev. Grayson told the Courier his work never ends. He told the Courier exclusively that the time feels right; he’s announcing his run for state representative of the 19th House District, which is expected to become open with Jake Wheatley’s confirmed move to Pittsburgh deputy mayor in January.
“I feel that I have hands-on experience as a community leader over the last 25-plus years, and I feel that I could be an asset to the 19th District in a larger level,” Rev. Grayson told the Courier, Nov. 22. He wanted to make it clear that even though he knows the Hill District the best, he’s ready to represent the entire 19th District, which also includes parts of Downtown, Oakland, the North Side, the South Side Hilltop, and Hazelwood.
“As a state rep, I will pour my heart and soul into the entire district,” he said.
Reverend Grayson was born in Brooklyn, New York; one of nine children (eight boys, one girl). He attended Livingstone College, an HBCU in Salisbury, North Carolina, earning a bachelor’s in business administration and management. Reverend Grayson earned a Master of Divinity at Hood Theological Seminary, also in Salisbury. He then completed a year of clinical pastoral education at the former Charlotte Memorial Hospital.
Reverend Grayson was the pastor of two churches before coming to Pittsburgh. He knew his call was to “jump in the work for justice and equality,” similar to his predecessor, the notable Rev. Charles H. Foggie.
However, in 2010, tragedy struck the Grayson family. Reverend Grayson’s son, Jeron, was fatally shot during a party held near the California University of Pennsylvania campus. He was 18.
“It is not the natural order for a parent to bury a child,” Rev. Grayson told the Courier. “Jeron made an impact on life and society, and we knew that we could have just gone under or taken bad to make good. As a family we committed ourselves to the work.”
Reverend Grayson said his family became committed to a mantra that he teaches young people to this day: “Never touch a gun.”
The Center That CARES has gone from a “mom-and-pop” organization to one that receives grants in the millions to help impact thousands of families in the Hill District and beyond. The Jeron X. Grayson center itself holds four to six events per week that assist in that mission.
Come 2022, Rev. Grayson, also the father to Glenn Grayson Jr. and Shinora Johnson and husband to Marsha Grayson, told the Courier that he wants to be the person that represents the 19th District in Harrisburg. He vows to help pass laws that bring more finances into the communities he represents. He vows to be transformative. He vows to be tangible.
“We don’t dwell in problems; we find solutions,” Rev. Grayson said. “That’s why I think I’ll be a great candidate. I’m an out-of-the-box, futuristic thinking person, very determined, very focused. I have a history of taking a little bit, and making much.”