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Remembering Bill Gray

Former Rep. Bill Gray III (D-PA), who passed away on July 1, will be remembered in a memorial service this coming Saturday in Philadelphia at the Bright Hope Baptist Church where he served as pastor for 35 years, NBC’s Kristen Welker notes.

Gray was a member of the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1991, and he became the first African American to chair the Budget Committee and to hold the post of majority whip. At the time, he was the highest-ranking black lawmaker in the country.

In a statement, President Obama called Gray a “trailblazer,” and his service inspired young Philadelphians (including Welker) to engage in the political process.