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First Person

Ray Elliott

The Oneness of the Human Family

Since 2004, retired chemist Ray Elliott has been visiting western Massachusetts classrooms to share the stories of his experiences as a black soldier during the Second World War and, when he returned home, as a civil rights worker dedicated to nonviolent resistance. He says of his struggles, "I hope someday Iíll be able to develop my story to show all the positive things that came out of all of these negative experiences." With a firm belief that "there is only one race, the human race," Ray often asks students to stand and to take a deep breath. He then tells his audience, "You have breathed in my molecules. Trillions of them. You have become part of me, and I have become part of you."

View a timeline of Ray Elliott's life

Mass Humanities - A Commonwealth of Ideas

"Double V" oral histories are supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Ray Elliott's Stories

goodbye alexander poster


World War I and after:
Ray's early life and his father's participation in the Great War

black soldiers awaiting transport to Guam


World War II:
Ray's military service during the Second World War

logo for double v campaign


World War II: "Two Wars to Win":
The Double V symbol inspires the fight against fascism abroad and racism at home

dr. martin luther king talking to malcolm x outside with police officer on left

1945 and after

Life in Cold War America:
The GI Bill, Chemistry, Malcolm X and the Civil Rights Act

Listen to Ray Elliott's full interview.

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