In 1985 former UNC Professor Gerald Horne titled his book on the life of the great WEB Dubois, Black and Red. This description was perfect for Ray. Black, in not only his being, but in his daily and lifelong advocacy for the dignity and humanity of his people.
And Ray was Red, too. Not in the contemporary way the media talks about Blue states and Red states but because he was a socialist. He believed the wealth of this country or any other, should not be in the hands of a few billionaires but controlled by the people.
His life experiences brought him to this conclusion: growing up in a working-class family in the Jim Crow South ; witnessing racism and oppression in the U.K.; being an anti-war activist while in the military; and constant reading and participation in study groups, conferences and meetings that included the prominent Trinidadian Marxist CLR James and Black Power leaders of the time.
Armed with this understanding of racial or white supremacist capitalism, he set out to help his people free themselves from the ravages of racism, national oppression and class exploitation. He understood that people with this analysis needed to be in an organization and he took pride in being a member.
Ray was unapologetically socialist. Even when our enemies tried to use it against him to oppose the tremendous work he was doing.
Ray would bring his big picture analysis of the kind of world we need to his work on behalf of workers, tenants and immigrants. He was unpretentious and took pride in being able to explain new and sometime complicated concepts to people at the workplace or in the community.
Like everywhere else he worked, he served as a mentor and was a beloved comrade to members across the country who learned from his analysis of organizing workers in the South and the humility one needs to be a revolutionary.
He was excited to see so many young people identifying as socialist. We can only hope that this vision will guide us through the fight to rebuild our society after the pandemic. We love you Comrade/Brother Ray.