Kevin Alexander Gray: A Mighty Heart Has Stopped But It Didn’t Fail

Kevin Alexander Gray had a massive heart attack yesterday and didn’t make it. He was apparently out doing yard work when his wife noticed it was quiet. They called EMS but they couldn’t revive him.

I had just talked with Kevin last week. He said he was working on his will, but there was nothing to worry about, he just wanted to get it done. Kevin, who was 65 when he died, always felt was living on borrowed time because his dad and uncles had died young of heart failure—in their 40s and 50s.

Kevin was a great organizer on both local and national campaigns (Jesse Jackson). He helped James Brown when he was down. Built black businesses in Columbia, South Carolina. Helped families who’d lost members to violence, poverty, drugs or prison. He was a historian of black movements (Waiting for Lightning to Strike, Killing Trayvons), a gifted polemicist (in CounterPunch, The New Liberator and The Progressive), and a blast to be around.

Kevin had a seductive voice, the softer he spoke the more powerful and commanding it sounded. He had gift for mimicry and was a reservoir for all sorts of quirky knowledge. He had an encyclopedic memory for the lyrics to TV Show tunes, which he put on full display the last time we were together, in the Bay Area, snarled in Oakland traffic for two hours as we inched across the Bay Bridge.

Kevin knew the times were bleak, the struggle hard, if not impossible, but he remained mostly upbeat, despite the long odds. Confident that radical change was possible and it was in our hands, hearts and minds to make it happen.

I love you and miss you already, pal.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3