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Sat, 10.04.1913

Carrie Allen McCray, a serious writer from Virginia

Carrie A. McCray

Carrie Allen McCray, a Black writer, was born on this date in 1913.

Born in Lynchburg, VA, Carrie Allen's father, William Patterson Allen, was a lawyer; her mother, Mary Rice Hayes Allen, was a college teacher. As the ninth of ten children, McCray’s Virginia childhood had the warmth of a beloved family with close ties to the community.

She attended the Virginia Seminary Primary School, then she was seven, her family moved to Montclair, N.J., where she attended Spaulding Elementary School, Hillside Junior High, and Montclair High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Talladega College in 1935, and her master’s degree in social work from New York University in 1955.

In 1940, McCray married Winfield Scott Young, a marriage that ended in divorce in 1945. She married a second time to John H McCray.  James Weldon Johnson and Langston Hughes, among others, were guests in the Allen home, as were more unusual and less constrained figures that also came into the Allens’ lives. The tensions of race and gender that defined McCray’s early life continued into her adult years.

Her list of writings include "Ajös Means Goodbye," in 1966, and "The Black The Black Woman and Family Roles" (1980), "Moving Beyond Words," "The Crimson Edge: Older Women Writing," "The South Carolina Collection," and The Squaw Review. Her first-person memoir, "Freedom’s Child: The Life of a Confederate General’s Black Daughter," was published in 1998. Although she began to take her writing seriously at the age of 73, McCray made it clear that only recently has she been able to think of herself as writer in a professional sense.

Since 1986, Carrie Allen McCray made her home in Columbia, S.C. In November 2007, she married John Nickens, whom she had known for 80 years. Carrie Allen McCray Nickens died on July 25, 2008. She was 94.

Freedom's Child:
The Life of a Confederate General's Black Daughter
By Carrie Allen McCray
ISBN: 1565121864

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