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Fri, 12.25.1807

Charles B. Ray, Minister born

Charles Ray

*Charles B. Ray was born on Christmas Day in 1807.  He was a Black minister, journalist, and abolitionist.  

Born a free man in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Charles Bennett Ray was the son of mail carrier Joseph Aspinwall Ray and his wife, Annis Harrington.  He attended Wesleyan Seminary in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, studying theology, and then in 1832, enrolled as the first Black student at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. However, his enrollment was revoked less than two months after white students protested.  He then moved to New York City and opened a boot and shoe store.

Ray became a Methodist minister and later a Congregational minister, serving as pastor of two predominately white churches in New York City, Crosby Congregational Church and Bethesda Congregational Church.  He was a strong supporter of the temperance movement and was a member of the American Missionary Association, the African Society for Mutual Relief, and co-founded the Society for the Promotion of Education Among Colored Children.  

In the early 1830s, Ray became involved in the abolitionist movement and promoter of the Underground Railroad. He was also co-founder and director of the New York Vigilance Committee and a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, assisting runaway slaves.  Ray was also active in the Society of the Promotion of Education Among Colored Children.   In 1838 Ray and Phillip Alexander Bell became co-owners of The Colored American, the fourth weekly periodical published by African Americans, and Ray became the sole owner and editor in 1839. The Colored American promoted "the moral, social and political elevation of the free colored people; and the peaceful emancipation of the slaves."  Ray traveled throughout the north giving speeches condemning African American prejudice, and in 1840 became a supporter of the newly founded Liberty Party, the only publicly pro-Abolitionist political party.  

Ray married twice: first in 1834 to Henrietta Green Regulus, who died two years later in childbirth, and again in 1840 to Charlotte Augusta Burroughs. They had seven children, including the first Black woman attorney in America, Charlotte E. Ray; her sister Florence Ray, who also became an attorney; as well as poet Henrietta Cordelia Ray, known for her 80-line ode, "Lincoln".Charles B. Ray died on August 15, 1886, in New York City and is buried in Cypress HillsCemetery in Brooklyn.  

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