We call upon Amtrak to comply with existing law and honor a legislative lion, trailblazing African-American and dedicated son of Philadelphia.

Honor Deferred for An American Hero

Congressman William H. Gray III was, and remains, the highest-ranking member of the Pennsylvania delegation to ever serve in Congress.

A third-generation pastor and eventual President of the United Negro College Fund, Gray was a dedicated advocate whose immense public service and impact ranged from serving his local Philadelphians to sponsoring anti-apartheid legislation in the international sphere.

To commemorate Congressman Gray’s lifelong commitment and service to the United States and to international human rights, Congress passed legislation three years ago to redesignate 30th Street Station in Philadelphia as the “William H. Gray III 30th Street Station”, thereby creating only the second Amtrak station in the U.S. to be named after an African-American political leader.

The bill, H.R. 4838, was signed into law by President Barack Obama in August 2014, but to this day Amtrak has resisted renaming the station, failing to comply with the legislation and delaying a befitting honor of Gray’s legacy.

After years of patience and good faith efforts, we publicly call upon Amtrak to comply with H.R. 4838 and immediately rename the 30th Street Station as the William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.

Impact and Influence

Gray was a tireless advocate and transformative figure. His time in public service had an impact locally, nationally, and internationally.

As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Gray introduced H.R. 1460, an anti-Apartheid bill prohibiting loans and new investments in South Africa and enforcing sanctions on imports and exports to South Africa.

H.R. 1460 was a crucial precursor to the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986.

Gray served as president of the United Negro College Fund from 1991 to 2004, strengthening the technology infrastructures of private historically black colleges and universities, improving access of UNCF students and faculty to technology and tech careers, and securing one of the largest gifts in philanthropic history from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Finally, Congressman Gray was a strong protector of funds for infrastructure and public services and was instrumental in curtailing President Reagan’s efforts to drastically eliminate funds for Amtrak and in securing funding for the restoration of 30th Street Station.

We believe it is more than fitting that his actions in saving the station, and northeastern Amtrak corridor, for that matter, in addition to his tireless advocacy as a foot soldier for progress and justice be memorialized through the renaming of the 30th Street Station.

Amtrak’s Response

In response to the passage of the law requiring the renaming of 30th St Station to honor Gray, Amtrak has claimed that “no Amtrak-owned stations are named for individuals,” and that there have been no formal name changes to other Amtrak stations. However, a review of Amtrak’s official website and documents turned up numerous instances where Amtrak directly or indirectly references memorialized stations:

William Gray
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Station BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport Station Moynihan Station New York William H. Gray III 30th Street Station
Overall Naming X
X X ?
Physical Signage X X X ?
Marketing Materials X X X ?
System Announcements X ?
Memorial Placard X X ?

Gray Station would represent the first ever Amtrak station to be named after an African-American elected representative. For both reasons of equity and compliance, we call upon Amtrak to comply with H.R. 4838 and immediately rename the 30th Street Station as the “William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.”


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