John Hunter Gray, seen in an iconic photo chal­leng­ing se­gre­ga­tion at a Mississippi lunch counter, has died.

The Sun Herald - - Front Page - BY EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS

A com­mu­nity or­ga­nizer shown in an iconic pho­to­graph while chal­leng­ing ra­cial se­gre­ga­tion at a Mississippi lunch counter in the 1960s has died at his home in Po­catello, Idaho.

Known by his birth name John Sal­ter Jr. when he worked at his­tor­i­cally black Touga­loo Col­lege in Mississippi, he later changed his name to John Hunter Gray to honor the Na­tive Amer­i­can part of his an­ces­try. He some­times went by the nick­name Hunter Bear Gray.

Rel­a­tives say he was 84 when he died Mon­day after an ill­ness.

Sal­ter was a so­ci­ol­ogy teacher and NAACP youth ad­viser in Mississippi in the early 1960s, work­ing closely with Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers.

In May 1963, Sal­ter joined black and white Touga­loo stu­dents dur­ing a sit-in at a seg­re­gated lunch counter at the Wool­worth’s store in down­town Jack­son. A mob of young white peo­ple doused them with sugar, mus­tard and ketchup and at­tacked Sal­ter with brass knuck­les and bro­ken glass.

The taunt­ing crowd and the peace­ful pro­test­ers were cap­tured in a blackand-white pho­to­graph that gained in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion.

“I was burned with cig­a­rettes, hit and had pep­per thrown in my eyes,” Sal­ter, by then known as Gray, wrote in an ar­ti­cle pub­lished in The Guardian in 2015. “The women weren’t struck, but had their hair pulled. All the while the air was filled with ob­scen­i­ties, the nword – it was a lav­ish dis­play of un­bri­dled ha­tred.”

Sal­ter grew up in Ari­zona and worked as a la­bor union or­ga­nizer in the U.S. South­west be­fore mov­ing to Mississippi, said one of his sons, John Sal­ter of Lin­coln, Ne­braska.

John Sal­ter said his fa­ther lived by a fa­vorite phrase from the In­dus­trial Work­ers of the World la­bor union: “An in­jury to one is an in­jury to all.”

Gray is sur­vived by two sons and two daugh­ters. His wife of more than 50 years, Eldri Sal­ter, died in 2015.

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