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Leon Bibb

Broadcast journalist Leon Douglas Bibb was born on October 5, 1944 in Butler, Alabama to Georgia and Leon Bibb. At the age of one, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he grew up and graduated from Glenville High School. Bibb received his B.S. degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University in 1966. He then went on to study radio, TV and film as a graduate student. He also served in the Vietnam War and was awarded a Bronze Star.

In the late 1960s, Bibb worked as a news reporter for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. He was hired as a reporter for WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio in 1971, and worked as a news anchor and reporter for WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio from 1972 to 1979. In 1976, while at WCMH-TV, Bibb became Ohio’s first African American primetime anchor. Then, in 1979, he moved to WKYC-TV in Cleveland, and was promoted to primary news anchor for the Monday through Friday newscasts in 1986. In 1995, Bibb was hired as a news anchor and reporter for WEWS-TV. He has narrated and hosted many shows at WEWS-TV, including “My Ohio with Leon Bibb,” “Leon Bibb's Perspective,” “Kaleidoscope,” and a series called “Our Hometown.” Bibb has interviewed numerous political leaders and notable figures, including President Barack Obama, President George H. W. Bush, Neil Armstrong, and James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition, Bibb has written several short stories and poems, many of which have been published.

Bibb has won six local Emmy Awards and received several citations from the Cleveland Press Club for excellence in journalism. He has also received the Distinguished Journalist Award from the Society for Professional Journalists, and Awards of Excellence from Cleveland State University and the Radio-TV Council. Bibb has been inducted into the Broadcaster's Hall of Fame, Glenville High School Hall of Fame, Bowling Green State University School of Communications Hall of Fame, Associated Press Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Sigma Delta Chi Hall of Fame, and the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. In 1996, Governor George Voinovich appointed Bibb to the Board of Trustees at Bowling Green State University, where he also served as chairman.

Bibb lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio with his wife, Marguerite. They have two daughters: Jennifer and Alison.

Leon Bibb was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 13, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.050

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/13/2014

Last Name

Bibb

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Douglas

Schools

Bowling Green State University

Glenville High School

Empire Junior High School

Miles Standish Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Leon

Birth City, State, Country

Butler

HM ID

BIB01

Favorite Season

Early October

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

The True Wealth Of A Nation Lies Not In Its Gold And Silver, But In The Knowledge Of Its People.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

10/5/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cleveland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp, Chili, or Mahi Mahi

Short Description

Broadcast journalist Leon Bibb (1944 - ) was the State of Ohio’s first African American primetime anchor. He has received six local Emmy Awards, several Cleveland Press Club citations, the Distinguished Journalist Award from the Society for Professional Journalists, and has been inducted into the Broadcaster's Hall of Fame.

Employment

WEWS - TV 5

WKYC - TV 3

WCMH - TV 4

WTOL - TV 11

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Leon Bibb's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Leon Bibb lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Leon Bibb describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Leon Bibb talks about the land in Alabama owned by his maternal family after the Civil War

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Leon Bibb describes his maternal grandmother, Katie Crowell

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Leon Bibb describes his mother's childhood and education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Leon Bibb describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Leon Bibb describes how his father was inspired by his mentor, Mr. Fred, to attend college

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Leon Bibb talks about his parents' move to Cleveland, Ohio and then back to Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Leon Bibb talks about noted black Clevelander, John O. Holly, and the Future Outlook League

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Leon Bibb describes his father's experience in the U.S. Army during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Leon Bibb talks about his father's return from World War II and the family's return to Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Leon Bibb describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Leon Bibb talks about his sister, Shirley Blackwell

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Leon Bibb shares his memories of moving into a duplex in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Leon Bibb describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Leon Bibb describes his elementary school and a teacher that encouraged him to pursue a career in journalism

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Leon Bibb recalls the TV and radio shows that influenced him as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Leon Bibb remembers watching the Civil Rights Movement on television

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Leon Bibb remembers the murder of Emmett Till and his experience in the South during car trips to Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Leon Bibb remembers joining Liberty Hill Baptist Church when he was ten years old

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Leon Bibb remembers his sixth grade teacher and mentor, Robert Taylor

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Leon Bibb recalls attending Empire Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Leon Bibb describes his passion for classic movies, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Leon Bibb describes his passion for classic movies, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Leon Bibb describes his role in the 2013 movie "Made in Cleveland"

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Leon Bibb shares his regrets for quitting his high school theater production of "The Diary of Anne Frank"

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Leon Bibb describes his experience at Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Leon Bibb recalls those African Americans who were on TV and radio when he grew up and his enjoyment of radio announcers

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Leon Bibb recalls his favorite radio announcers and the impact they had on him

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Leon Bibb describes his enrollment at Bowling Green State University and meeting his wife, Marguerite Bibb

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Leon Bibb recalls his increasing confidence in his journalistic skills at Bowling Green State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Leon Bibb describes his teacher at Bowling Green State University, Jeff Clark

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Leon Bibb describes being offered an internship at the Cleveland Call and Post in 1965

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Leon Bibb remembers covering Jim Brown's trial for the Cleveland Call and Post in 1965

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Leon Bibb remembers photographing Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Cleveland Call and Post in 1965

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Leon Bibb talks about the accessibility of Cleveland, Ohio athletes Jim Brown and Bill Willis

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Leon Bibb talks about the environment for African Americans in Cleveland, Ohio around 1965

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Leon Bibb recalls beginning his journalism career at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio in 1966

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Leon Bibb describes being drafted into the Fourth Infantry Division of the U.S. Army to fight in the Vietnam War in 1966

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Leon Bibb describes serving in the Fourth Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Leon Bibb remembers his friend, Randall Lee Williams, who was killed during the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Leon Bibb talks about earning the Bronze Star Medal

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Leon Bibb describes enrolling at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio for graduate school in 1968

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Leon Bibb describes producing the news broadcast for WBGU-TV at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio and moving to Toledo, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Leon Bibb talks about his experience as a reporter for WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Leon Bibb recalls being hired as a news anchor at WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Leon Bibb describes his experience as a news anchor at WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Leon Bibb describes interviewing James Earl Ray in 1978 with Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flint, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Leon Bibb describes interviewing James Earl Ray in 1978 with Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flint, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Leon Bibb describes the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Leon Bibb talks about the media coverage of James Earl Ray

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Leon Bibb describes being offered a position as news anchor for WKYC-TV in Cleveland, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Leon Bibb describes being offered a position as news anchor for WKYC-TV in Cleveland, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Leon Bibb remembers working with Al Roker at WKYC-TV in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Leon Bibb describes the social and political environment in Cleveland, Ohio when he returned in 1979

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Leon Bibb talks about the sports teams in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1980s and 1990s

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Leon Bibb describes the political environment in Cleveland, Ohio under city council president and HistoryMaker George Forbes

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Leon Bibb describes the economic revitalization of Cleveland, Ohio in the 1990s after the construction of Jacobs Field

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Leon Bibb describes the economic impact of restoring Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Leon Bibb talks about the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Leon Bibb recalls working as a reporter with the U.S. Coast Guard in Bahrain during Operation Desert Shield in 1991

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Leon Bibb remembers being demoted to street reporting after WKYC-TV was bought by Multimedia Broadcasting, Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Leon Bibb remembers leaving WKYC-TV in Cleveland, Ohio in 1995

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Leon Bibb describes hosting "Weekend Exchange" for WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Leon Bibb describes his public affairs program for WEWS-TV, "Kaleidoscope"

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Leon Bibb recalls the Cleveland Browns leaving and returning to Cleveland, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Leon Bibb recalls the Cleveland Browns leaving and returning to Cleveland, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Leon Bibb talks about the shows he currently hosts for WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio and interviewing Don King

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Leon Bibb shares his journalistic philosophy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Leon Bibb reflects on his work as his dream job

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Leon Bibb describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Leon Bibb describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Leon Bibb talks about his family

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Leon Bibb reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Leon Bibb narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$7

DAStory

2$9

DATitle
Leon Bibb describes interviewing James Earl Ray in 1978 with Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flint, pt. 1
Leon Bibb describes hosting "Weekend Exchange" for WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio
Transcript
Okay, well, one of the highlights I guess we'd have to say of your stay in Columbus [Ohio] was an interview in Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in [Morgan County] Tennessee of James Earl Ray. Now how did that come about?$$It be--it came because of a pornographer by the name of Larry Flint. Larry Flint ran Hustler magazine. And Larry Flint's Hustler magazine came out of Columbus, although he stayed in trouble with Cincinnati [Ohio] all the time over porno--pornographic issues. But, but he lived in Columbus, and we knew Larry. He was at the TV station all the time because he was interviewing me. You didn't even have to go to him. He'd come to the TV station to be interviewed about any controversy that was going on. He came to me one day and says, "How'd you like to interview James Earl Ray?" I says "Me?" He says, "Yeah, yeah, I, I don't trust the network boys. But, but I know that you Columbus guys--I, I can get you in." I says "You can get me in?" He says, "I'm trying to get him a new trial 'cause I don't think he killed Dr. King, and I'm trying to get him a new--a new trial." I says, "Okay," so I flew--so I run it by the TV station management. I says, "I can fly down with James--with, with, with Larry Flint. It's not gonna cost the station anything." They loved that. "It's not gonna cost you anything 'cause we'll go in his private plane. I'll do a piece on him, about how he's trying to get James Earl Ray a new trial. And we're gonna come back the same so I don't need a hotel." Okay, so a photographer and I go down with, with Larry Flint. Now this is two weeks before Larry Flint--three weeks before Larry Flint is shot in an assassination attempt, and paralyzed for the rest of his life. But he's walking around at this time. So 1978, we fly down, go to Brushy at--we, we land in, in, in Larry's private plane, a plush stretch, almost airlen--airliner style, airliner-length airplane, landed in Knoxville, Tennessee. He's got a limousine waitin' for us, so we get in the limousine. And I'm photographing him. And Bruce Johansson [ph.] is my cameraman, and we're photographing Larry as we drive the ninety miles or whatever to the prison--get to the prison. They know we're coming. We sign in. We go in a little holding area where they do such things, a room about the size of this--maybe not even this size. The next thing I know, James Earl Ray walks into the room, under guard of course. I don't think he's shackled or anything--don't think so, but I know he had on a blue shirt and blue jeans. He walks, in; he says, "You the man gonna interview me?" He's looking at me. I says "Hi, yeah, I am." He says, "Hi, I'm James Earl Ray," puts his hand out. Well, when a man puts his hand out, I shook his hand. It was just automatic. I mean I, I didn't think about it until I grabbed his hand. I said that's the hand that killed [Reverend] Dr. Martin Luther King [Jr.], who I photographed in 1965 in Cleveland [Ohio] and who I loved. I didn't think about it 'til we held hands. And then I says well, if I hadn't of shaken his hand, he might have said well, okay, then don't worry about the interview then, and go back into his cell. He did not have to do an interview. So we sat down and we talked about life here and there, what's going on in prison a little bit. I mean I'm, I'm--he knows where I'm going, but I'm just in no hurry to ask the $64,000 question, which I finally asked. And Bruce behind me has got the camera whirring. I hear that click-click, click-click, click-click. We're, we're, we're rolling on camera. "Did you kill Dr. Martin Luther King?" "Oh, no, no, no, no, I didn't kill him." "Do you know who did?" "No, I, I, I, I, I wouldn't know who killed him." "But you were convicted of killing him." "That's true, but I didn't do it." And then he goes on and talks about he was running guns for a man by the name of Raul. This is the new information that had not come out before, to my knowledge--a man named Raul. That's why he was in I guess Memphis [Tennessee] at the time. But he didn't kill Dr. King he said. And we talked a little bit further and went on and on and on. And I--there, there was nothing new other than that that came out. He denied it, denied it, denied it. And fifteen, twenty minutes later it was over with and ended.$And I talked to Channel 5. Channel 5 knew what was going on. We had talked to 5 earlier, and they, they knew that, that I was gonna be out there, and they, they--I had dinner with the general manager at the time here and, and the news director, Gary Robertson--Gary Robinson--and the news director, Paul Stueber. We had dinner and they said, "We got an idea, and we would like for you to come do a show that doesn't exist now; nobody's ever done it before; and it's called the 'Weekend Exchange,' where you would be on the air from eight until 9:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings, hour and a half each day. Come do that show." They had--the way they described it was something I'd always wanted to do, something like "CBS Sunday Morning," if you ever looked at that. It had that feel to it. And I did that show. And I had a--we had a staff of about four or five people who worked on that show, not counting the photographers who worked--reporters. And I said go long on our stories. If you need four minutes for a story, take the four minutes. Just take--make sure you use it wisely. And we put that live show on the air on Saturdays and Sunday mornings. And I did that for eighteen months or thereabouts and until--$$So this a, a show that's--that consists of mostly in--interviews, right, that, that you were conducting with people?$$We do in-studio interviews like we're doing right now. We'd shoot videotape of a story and hold it for the weekend. We--it was tape, it was live, it was--it was whatever it needed to be. The day Princess Diana died in England [sic, Paris, France on August 31, 1997], I got a phone call at, at 2:00 in the morning, or 1:00 in the morning, something like that--3:00 in the morning--"Leon, the Princess has died. Listen, we're, we're reworking the whole Saturday morning show. Get in here as soon as you can 'cause we're reworking the whole thing, and we'll be going live to London." I mean I did--and I did talkback interviews with people in London, England on the BBC about what was going on. We went live to Paris, France, where the--where, where Princess Diana died in the automobile crash with Dodi al-Fayed [sic, Dodi Fayed]. It--we took whatever we--whatever format it needed to take. We were not in a hurry to come on and say who got shot last night unless it was a major, major event. We would come on and I--and, and I, I would--we would have a live picture. And I would say "You're looking at a live television picture right now of, of, of the sun kind of rising up behind the--Jacobs Field [now Progressive Field], the baseball stadium. You'll see it right on the rim of the--of, of the stadium. The sun began its ascent from the eastern horizon at 6:42 this morning. It is now 8:01. It is now 8:01 or 8:30, whatever it was. And I says so the sun is still climbing to its zenith." And we would start it that way. We were not--and I says wa, wa--"So I'll be giving you the news headlines in just a moment, but let's check on the weather situation." We'll check with the weatherperson. And then we would say, say now these are some, some of the headlines of which took place. It was done that way. And then we would have a long format story, and we would have live interviews. People would come, and it was just a different kind of a--of a Channel 5 News--Channel 5 production, which I really, thoroughly loved--probably my favorite show of all the shows I've ever done in my life. And, and it kept me going, kept my face up there in television, got me back in television, and I did that for eighteen months, until they eventually killed the show and then say well, we want you to go to weekends now, the regular weekend 6:00 and 11:00 news as the co-anchor. And I was paired with, with a co-anchor woman there, or a co-anchor man. And, and we, we did the show at six and eleven until I got promoted to Monday through Friday here at Channel 5.$$Okay. So I mean was, wa--was it a, a ratings issues or, or what, for Morning Exchange?$$For, for the "Weekend Exchange?"$$Or "Weekend Exchange."$$I would guess. I don't think it ever received a huge, huge rating number. I don't know may--I don't--it might have been financial. You know, we had a crew. We had people working that, that show. We had live reports and all of that. It, it might have been that. I'm, I'm not quite certain what it was, but, but it was quality. It, it, it was quality work, as, as I've often said. You know, I live and die by ratings, but if nobody's watching and I know we're doing a fine job--if, if you've got a bar with, with, with, with, with, with dancing women over here on this corner and a church preaching the gospel over there, there may be more people in the bar than in the church, but that does not mean that the church is doing the right thing. It's doing what it's supposed to do. And so I always thought we were doing what we were supposed to do. So I was--I, I was kind of worried when, when, when, when the show died, but I didn't have to get up at 4:00 in the morning anymore either so. I was back to more traditional hours, working 3:00 to 11:30 doing the news on Saturdays and Sundays at six and eleven.

Carl Ray

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.

Accession Number

A2002.039

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/28/2002

Last Name

Hampton-Ray

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Tuskegee University

Rosenwald High School

Butler Public Elementary School

First Name

Brenda

Birth City, State, Country

Butler

HM ID

RAY01

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

If I Wake Up In The Morning, It's A Good Day.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

8/30/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Jose

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Grits

Death Date

9/17/2014

Short Description

Educator and comedian Carl Ray (1944 - 2014 ) started as an engineer, but later in life used his experience of personal tragedy and racial injustice as inspiration for a play, motivational speaking, stand-up comedy and his work in education with African American youth. He and wife Brenda ran a school in the Bay area, and organize college tours to encourage wider enrollment of African American students.

Employment

Lockheed Martin

Delete

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

1$9

DATitle
Carl Ray describes playing pranks and cards
Carl Ray describes the start of his community outreach
Transcript
Now, you were saying--you were describing yourself at the window [of the college union at Tuskegee University in Alabama].$$Right, so what I would do I would gradually get up enough nerve to get closer and after a few weeks I walked in--I went into the card room and I would watch them play cards. And by this time, I'm standing next to kids playing cards and one, one of the kids said "You wanna play." I said "No I don't know how, I don't know how to play." He said, "We'll teach ya. Come on and sit down, we'll teach ya." So I sit down I didn't know nothing about no cards, just playing bid whist. And they were teaching me how to play and for the first time I--it was something I enjoyed and I got into learning a game, and that was like a savior for me 'cause I learned how to play cards and I would go every, every day after dinner. I would get in there around 5:30, and I would play cards until they close. Well when you play cards kids talk and they slam the cards down on the table, and I was developing this little personality. I was enjoying--I was slamming cards down and they say humorous things, I'm saying humorous things, and talking back and all of that, and so that card room became--I stayed there every night 'til they closed. Because when I left there, I had to go back and into, to, into this, this world, which wasn't pretty. So I became the man, playing cards. I even got me a job in the college union so I could stay there all the time. Now when I leave there, my, my biggest problem wa, was nightmares. I had nightmares like you wouldn't believe. They were so painful and fearful until I wouldn't lay down to sleep. I would sit on a straight chair and that way I would bob and weave so I would never fall into a deep sleep 'cause I would always wake myself up. So I became--I, I, I could exist on two, three raggedy hours of sleep a night because I would rather stay awake then to lay down and have these nightmares. So what I begin to do I begin to become a, a prankster. I would stay awake late at night. I would go around and I would get trash cans, and I would fill 'em with half of water and I would lean 'em on the door so when the guys opened their doors in the morning the water would flush in. Even I would get a mop and put it right in the crease of the door so when they opened it, it would fall in on 'em. I would get ropes and tie doorknobs together so when guys try to open their door--so I kept myself busy, two, three, four o'clock in the morning sitting up all these little pranks. And they, finally they knew who it was, 'ole Ray had been here, but what they didn't realize I was, I was doing anything to entertain myself because I wouldn't sleep because of the fear of the nightmares. So I would do anything to stay awake.$So what have you been doing the last eight years?$$Been doing some motivational speaking, consulting work, educational consulting. What I, what I, what I did I said, "Look, you know, I got all of this experience, I got all of this experience where through the years on the side I've spent all this time working with young people, helping young people get into college. There has to be some value there," so I just went to a guy and say "Look hey I got a lot of experience, this is what a wanna do," and I just started the contract here and there, bingo, it was a natural for me.$$And talk about that, because you were start, you started to take kids to--$$Oh, about fifteen years ago this year I just started taking kids to visit Historical Black Colleges and Universities [HBCUs] in the South, and that was a spontaneous move. I, I took 4 young men. I was looking for something to save some of the young black men. And I never will forget we were out one night and you know how we get together as a group and we talk about all the problems we have as African Americans in the community, and after we do all this talking and there's always well you know "They oughta do something, they oughta do something," so coming home that night I asked my wife [Brenda Ray], I said, who are they. She said what you talking about. I said have you ever notice we get together, we have all these great discussions, we come up with all these solutions to all of these problems, then we say why don't they do something. Nobody ever do anything, and I just said I'm gonna become they. And that's when I got four boys and said "Hey look I'm gonna take y'all out South," put them on a plane, flew them to George, got a van, psst, rode around Georgia and Alabama; that was it. Then I said oh--buddy of mine said when you go back next time and maybe we'll rent two vans. I said I'll think about it. The next year I ended up taking four to five kids. No money. Charged it on my American Express card. American Express called me up, "Hey have you lost your card?" (laughter) "No." "We see a lot of activity on your card, we've never seen this much activity." I said, "I just bought some tickets for some kids. You gon get your money back." Now before they called me mind you they had checked my checking account, my savings account, and they said, "Well we've check all your accounts and you don't have that much money." I said, "Don't worry about you'll have your money, I'll get you your money, don't worry about it." So I got them that money. I went out to some folks in the community and say, "Hey look give me--I need $9,000, I done charged about easy"--but I got the money, paid it off, and it just kinda mushroomed from there, and it's still going.