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Willie McCray

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Information about Willie McCray

Profile image of Willie McCray

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Security Manager
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pie (Sweet Potato)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home
Favorite Quote:
Bring It On.

Birthplace

Born:
3/4/1942
Birth Location:
Columbus, Georgia

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Security Manager
Civil Rights Activist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Pie (Sweet Potato)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home
Favorite Quote:
Bring It On.

Birthplace

Born:
3/4/1942
Birth Location:
Columbus
See how Willie McCray is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Civil rights organizer Willie Lawrence McCray was born on March 4, 1942, in Columbus, Georgia, to Willie Cedric McCray and Gussie Pearl Bussy McCray. Growing up near Fort Benning, McCray attended Jenson School and Carver Vocational High School. In 1960, he moved to Atlanta. Drawn into the Albany Movement by his cousin, McCray was arrested, and his life changed forever. Soon, he was hired as a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Based at 360 Nelson Street in Atlanta and serving under the management expertise of Ruby Doris Smith, McCray’s role was to get money to bail organizers out of jail. He retrieved and fixed the cars of the civil rights organizers at SNCC’s motor pool at Interstate 20 and Spring Street. Each car was provided with a CB radio. McCray’s first job was driving a load of books from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Holly Springs, Mississippi. Witness to his share of traumatic events, McCray followed the movement through Freedom Summer in 1964 and 1965’s March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

McCray was with Willie Ricks and Stokeley Carmichael (Kwame Toure) when they called for “Black Power.” As SNCC moved towards Black Power, McCray ended up in jail for a year in 1966, and as the movement faded, McCray resettled in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He met fellow activist Hellen O’Neal at SNCC’s New York Office and they were soon married.

McCray was director of security for the Ohio Historical Society’s National African American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio. McCray has two grown sons and a grandson and a granddaughter.

McCray passed away on October 11, 2006 at the age of 64.

See how Willie McCray is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Willie McCray's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willie McCray lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willie McCray describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willie McCray recalls race relations in Columbus, Georgia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willie McCray describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willie McCray describes his parents' personalities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willie McCray describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Willie McCray describes his childhood community of sharecroppers in Columbus, Georgia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Willie McCray describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willie McCray recalls his childhood activities in Columbus, Georgia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willie McCray describes his grade school education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willie McCray talks about moving to Atlanta, Georgia after leaving school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willie McCray recalls how he joined the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willie McCray remembers being recruited to SNCC
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willie McCray describes the organization and leadership of SNCC
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willie McCray describes the work of the SNCC in Mississippi
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willie McCray describes the operations of SNCC
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willie McCray recalls serving as an SNCC driver
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willie McCray describes the dangers he faced as a driver for SNCC
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willie McCray recalls his covert operations as a SNCC driver
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willie McCray recalls being arrested in Alabama while working for SNCC
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willie McCray recalls participating in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willie McCray reflects upon the differences between SCLC and SNCC
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willie McCray remembers the murders of civil rights activists
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willie McCray remembers the leaders of the Selma to Montgomery march
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willie McCray recalls the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willie McCray recalls the impact of the 1964 Democratic National Convention
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willie McCray recalls living in New York City during the mid-1960s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willie McCray remembers moving to Yellow Springs, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willie McCray recalls serving a year in a federal penitentiary
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willie McCray talks about his desire to return to the South
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willie McCray describes his work at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willie McCray describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willie McCray reflects upon his career in social activism
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Willie McCray describes the beginning of the Black Power movement
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Willie McCray describes the origin of the Black Panther symbol
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Willie McCray explains his opposition to the Black Panther Party
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Willie McCray describes his civil rights work in Yellow Springs, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Willie McCray reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Willie McCray reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Willie McCray reflects upon his family life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Willie McCray describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Willie McCray narrates his photographs