Graylan Hagler

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Rev. Graylan Hagler (born on March 1, 1954) is an African-American pastor and activist. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Hagler received a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1976. Three years later, he received his Masters of Divinity degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary. On 3 February 1980, Hagler was ordained in the United Church of Christ and was recognized with full standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) the following year. The Rev. Mr. Hagler is the Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, Washington, D.C., and the Immediate Past National President of Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice (MRSEJ).


In 1980, he founded a congregation in Roxbury, Massachusetts and in 1991 ran for mayor of that city and lost. During his 12 years as a pastor in Boston Reverend Hagler’s work was one of empowerment and opposition to the forms of racism that gripped the city in the 1980s. He campaigned to protect citizens from unconstitutional and illegal police practices and to safeguard democratic participation in the selection and election of black political leadership. He also led the Free South Africa Movement to force divestiture of dollars from the support of the Apartheid system.

In 1992, Reverend Hagler moved to Washington, D.C., where today he is the Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ and continues to preach and organize. He has fought the proliferation of liquor stores in the black community and has insisted on community participation in development issues. In 1993 he opposed the Exxon Corporation's plans to build a ‘super gas station’ in the neighborhood where his church is located. In 2003, Reverend Hagler broke ground on that same Exxon site after acquiring the property. Instead of a ‘super station,’ 69 units of subsidized apartments for senior citizens opened in February 2005. Reverend Hagler worked to preserve the only publicly funded hospital in the District of Columbia, organized a successful effort to oppose the death penalty from being instituted by the United States Congress on the district, and continues the fight against public school vouchers, which he sees as a plan to divert funds from public education to private schools.

Reverend Hagler served on the Steering and Administrative Committee of United for Peace and Justice, a national coalition working to oppose aspects of U.S. foreign policy that the group believes contribute to war and aggression. Reverend Hagler is the former Development Director of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) which helps people become homeowners. Reverend Hagler has also served as chaplain to UNITE HERE Local 25, the labor union representing hotel workers in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

He is the Executive Director of Faith Strategies, an organization of clergy he founded in 2012. Faith Strategies organizes efforts to better the lot of working people, protects human and civil rights and develop strategies for movements to embrace the faith community.

Rev. Hagler has advocated to change the name of the Washington Redskins, arguing that the current name is racist. He believes in the dignity and worth of all people, the worth of workers, empower movements and people so that liberation is realized.[1]


  1. ^ Black Church & Public Life Symposium - Rev. Graylan Hagler