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Thu, 01.07.1897

Rayford Logan, Educator, and Pan-Africanist born

Rayford Logan

*Rayford Logan was born on this date in 1897.  He was a Black historian and Pan-African activist.  

Rayford Whittingham Logan was born and raised in Washington, DC. He won a scholarship to Williams College, graduating in 1917. During the First World War, he joined the U.S. Army and served as a first lieutenant in the all-black 93rd Infantry Division, which undertook operations with French troops.  Once the war ended, Logan remained in France, absorbing both the culture and the language.  He helped to coordinate the 2nd Pan-African Congress in Paris in 1921.

He returned to the US in the early 1920s and began teaching at Virginia Union University. During the United States occupation of Haiti, he made a fact-finding mission to Haiti to investigate educational efforts. He published his findings in The Journal of Negro History in October 1930. The main findings indicated there was little improvement in education due to the choice of Southern white Marines as country administrators. These men had been raised with Jim Crow laws in the American South and brought their prejudice to their new assignment on the island, a majority-Black republic. The main improvement effort resulted in establishing agricultural schools, which were highly expensive and staffed by non-French speakers, so classes had to be translated. The funding for these schools dwarfed the amount given to most academic schools. 

In 1930 Logan started graduate studies at Harvard University, earning an MA in 1932 and a Ph.D. in 1936. In 1932, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Logan to his Black Cabinet. Logan drafted Roosevelt's executive order prohibiting the exclusion of Blacks from the military in World War II.  Logan became a professor at Howard University, where he practiced as a historian from 1938 to 1965.  During that time (1950–51), Logan became Director of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).  Logan was the 15th General President of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.  

He was best known for his study of post-Reconstruction America, a period he termed "the nadir of American race relations". In the late 1940s, he was the chief advisor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on international affairs.  In 1980, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal and was professor emeritus of history at Howard University.  Radford Logan died of a heart ailment at Howard University Hospital on November 4, 1982, at 85.  His longtime residence in the Brookland section of Washington, DC, is a designated site of the city's African American Heritage Trail.  

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