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Carl Ray

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Information about Carl Ray

Profile image of Carl Ray

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Educator
Comedian
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Grits
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bahamas
Favorite Quote:
If I Wake Up In The Morning, It's A Good Day.

Birthplace

Born:
8/30/1944
Birth Location:
Butler, Alabama

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Educator
Comedian
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Grits
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bahamas
Favorite Quote:
If I Wake Up In The Morning, It's A Good Day.

Birthplace

Born:
8/30/1944
Birth Location:
Butler
See how Carl Ray is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

An engineer turned entertainer, educator, mentor and activist, Carl F. Ray was born on August 30, 1944, in Butler, Alabama, to Vidella and George Ray. In 1962, tragedy struck his life when a white man killed his father, George, because Ray did not call the man “sir.” Consumed by anger and guilt, Ray suffered from depression and nervous breakdowns. Ray persevered and graduated from Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1967 with a B.S. in electrical engineering.

For years Ray worked as an engineer before deciding in 1976 to try his luck as a standup comic. To support himself, Ray drove a taxi. It was a rider in his cab who made him see the value of forgiveness and acceptance. By 1989, he was host and producer of his own cable television comedy show. In 1990, he began to work also as a motivational speaker, which led Ray to write and perform a one-man play, A Killing in Chocktaw, dealing with the years following the tragedy of his father’s death. This play was turned into a documentary in 2004.

Since 1988, Ray and his wife, Brenda, ran Courtland Esteem School from their home in San Jose, California, where they taught African American youth in first through sixth grades. Concerned about young black students attending college, Ray escorted teams of youth on college tours. More than 1,200 students have participated in these tours. Ray received commendations for his work from Congressman Norman Mineta, Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado and other government officials. CityFlight recognized Ray as one of the "10 Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area."

Ray passed away on September 17, 2014 at the age of 70.

Carl Ray was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 28, 2002.

See how Carl Ray is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Carl Ray's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Carl Ray lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Carl Ray describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Carl Ray describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Carl Ray talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Carl Ray describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Carl Ray talks about his experience having polio as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Carl Ray describes his family life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Carl Ray describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Carl Ray talks about his childhood experiences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Carl Ray describes the community where he grew up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Carl Ray talks about attending Butler Public Elementary School in Butler, Alabama
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Carl Ray talks about his childhood friends
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Carl Ray describes discovering his comedic talent
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Carl Ray talks about ethnicity in Choctaw County, Alabama
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Carl Ray describes his experience as a student at Rosenwald High School in New Roads, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Carl Ray describes his decision to attend Tuskegee University in Alabama
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Carl Ray describes the opportunities available to black engineers in 1967 and his starting work at Lockheed Corporation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Carl Ray describes the murder of his father, George Ray III, by a white neighbor William Carlisle in 1962, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Carl Ray describes the murder of his father, George Ray III, by a white neighbor William Carlisle in 1962, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Carl Ray describes his father's murderer, William Carlisle
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Carl Ray reflects upon how he felt after his father's murder
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Carl Ray talks about his experience after the trial for his father's murder
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Carl Ray describes his experience returning to Tuskegee University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Carl Ray describes playing pranks and cards
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Carl Ray describes his developing a comedic persona
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Carl Ray describes the blackouts he started experiencing at Tuskegee University in Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Carl Ray describes his forgiveness of his father's murderer, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Carl Ray describes his forgiveness of his father's murderer, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Carl Ray describes his start at the Lockheed Corporation in 1967
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Carl Ray describes his experiences with racism at the Lockheed Corporation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Carl Ray talks about building a Tuskegee employee network at the Lockheed Corporation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Carl Ray describes leaving the Lockheed Corporation to start a comedic career in 1976
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Carl Ray describes finding comfort in travel and comedy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Carl Ray describes his comedic approach
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Carl Ray talks about how he lost his interest in comedy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Carl Ray describes the dynamics of the comedy circuit
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Carl Ray describes his experience as a touring comedian
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Carl Ray lists some of his favorite comedians
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Carl Ray describes his writing process
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Carl Ray describes why he quit stand-up comedy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Carl Ray describes the start of his community outreach
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Carl Ray talks about his proudest accomplishments
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Carl Ray describes the origin of the Courtland Esteem School in San Jose, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Carl Ray describes his hopes and concerns for black youth, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Carl Ray describes his hopes and concerns for black youth, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Carl Ray reflects upon his healing process
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Carl Ray reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Carl Ray narrates his photos, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Carl Ray narrates his photos, pt. 2